By Michael Cantillon
Bayern Munich fans are to stage a protest at Arsenal tomorrow against the ticket prices charged to away supporters.
A group of travelling fans are planning to miss the first five minutes of the Champions League showdown to highlight what they consider the exhorbitant prices at the London club, with the cheapest away ticket priced at £64.
This is in stark contrast to the affordable ticket policy championed by the Bundesliga giants, where a season ticket can be purchased for £104.
The protest is being led by supporter group FC Bayern WorldWide (FCBWW), who are campaigning for cheaper tickets.
The fans group have released several statements on their Facebook page, promoting the protest and explaining the reasons behind it.
“We will not enter the away sector for the first five minutes of the Arsenal FC against FC Bayern München game on the 20th of October 2015,” a statement said. “We will be taking this action to draw attention to the excessive ticket prices for this fixture. The cheapest ticket for this GROUP PHASE match is priced at £64.
“£64 a ticket, but without fans football is not worth a penny.”
The group also explained that, with postage and charges included, the actual price a Bayern Munich fan will pay for a match ticket in the away section alone rises to nearly £74.
Bayern have sold all 4,000 away tickets for tomorrow’s clash and FCBWW claim they have had “positive feedback” through social media about their protest.
The group argue the prices being charged by clubs like Arsenal should not be accepted by supporters.
“This kind of a price structure makes a stadium visit impossible for younger and socially disadvantaged fans,” the statement added. “It destroys fan culture, which is the basis of football. In England, this development has already taken place.
“We want to protest at the price structure and at the same time we want to remind clubs and associations of their social responsibility and warn them of the effects, which we will all feel, both as fans and club officials.”
Last month, Football League supporters from England took part in the “Twenty’s Plenty” campaign run by the Football Supporter’s Federation which called for all English football league fixtures outside of the top division to be capped at £20. Borussia Dortmund fan group Kein Zwanni called for a match boycott in August.
FCBWW has pledged its support for such causes.
“We express our support for campaigns like “20’s Plenty” from England and “Kein Zwanni” in Germany. Especially as the developments in English football should be a sobering example.”
The rise in ticket prices over the last decade-and-a-half is considerable.
For the Champions League fixture between Arsenal and Bayern Munich at Highbury in 2000/01, Bayern fans were charged £19.50 for a seat in the away section. Compared to the £64 price for tomorrow night’s game, this is a 328% increase in 15 years.
FCBWW have urged for measures to be taken to stop this alarming trend, claiming that their protest should prove a warning as to the direction football could go.
“The first five minutes of the game in London will be, what future football will look like if this madness continues. Empty seats in the stands and no singing or emotion in the stands. In the following 85 minutes we want to show the alternative and show how fundamentally important a lively fan-culture is for football.
“We call upon all Bayern fans to participate in the protest and to spread this word. It concerns all of us.”
A recent survey by GoEuro, a football price index website, found that the average price of a ticket to a Premier League fixture is £54, while the average for a Bundesliga match is just £23.
Arsenal were also found to charge the most expensive tickets in England, charging up to £97 for a Premier League ticket and up to £64 for away supporters. By contrast, a season ticket can be bought to see Bayern for £103.15.
Club Nr. 12, another Bayern Munich supporters group which has also backed the protest, have stated though that while Arsenal are the worst culprits, Bayern’s other Champions League Group F opponents are also charging what they consider to be extortionate prices to away fans. Olympiakos are charging €50 (£36.65) and Dynamo Zagreb €40 (£29.32).
Former Bayern president Uli Hoeness once explained the rationale behind the club’s £104 season ticket price.
“We could charge more than €130 (£104). Let’s say we charged €380 (£300). We’d get €2.5m (£2m) more in income, but what’s €2.5m to us?
“In a transfer discussion you argue about the sum for five minutes. But the difference between €130 and €380 is huge for the fans.
“We do not think fans are like cows, who you milk. Football has got to be for everybody.
“That’s the biggest difference between us and England.”
By Michael Cantillon