Pitchside Europe

Bayern’s kind gesture to fans underlines ‘Rip-off Britain’ ticket culture

European champions Bayern Munich will subsidise the cost of their supporters’ tickets to see their side take on Arsenal in London in the last-16 of the Champions League.

In the latest underscoring of the hefty prices slapped on football fans in the United Kingdom, the German giants have responded to the Gunners’ price plan for the big European tie – a repeat of last year’s draw at the same stage - by announcing they will pay for €30 (£25) of the €75 (£62) per person that Arsenal are charging.

The statement on their official website read:

"The 2,974 tickets that are provided to us by Arsenal FC are now available to over 18,000 ticket orders. The fare collected from Arsenal is £62.00 (€75.00) per ticket.

"Both in the past, as well as in the current season, Bayern has thrilled the world of European football not only by the outstanding performances and consistency of the team, but also by the fantastic and vocal support of our fans - the UEFA Champions League Final on 25 May 2013 in London and the UEFA Super Cup final on 30 August 2013 in Prague remain in permanent memory.

"Particularly noteworthy is the fact that a large number of Bayern fans not only support the highlights, but also at every away game: this loyalty not only consumes a great deal of time, but also rips a big hole in the wallet.

"Bayern have, therefore, decided to subsidise the tickets for the away game at Arsenal by nearly €90,000 in total.

"Thus, every Bayern fan who buys a ticket for the game on February 19 in London (will pay) only €45.00 (instead of the regular € 75.00).

"This is intended to represent a small thank you for the great support of the followers in the past calendar year."

Arsenal fans are already displeased with the current rates for single and season tickets at the Emirates, with the Arsenal Independent Supporters’ Association having expressed their disappointment last month when yet another hike for 2014-15 fees was announced.

The Premier League has done little in recent years to try and shake loose its reputation as being one of, if not the most, costly place to watch football in the world.

The Bundesliga, meanwhile, currently enjoying a peak period thanks to the success of the likes of Bayern and Borussia Dortmund – who contested the Champions League final last May – as well as a terrestrial television deal in the UK and strong demand for live coverage across mainland Europe, has long been associated with great value for money on a matchday.

With Bayern the heavy favourites to knock Arsene Wenger’s side out of the competition once again next month en route to what could be an unprecedented Champions League title retention, the argument that British football costs more because it is the best on the market is fast losing any credibility it had.

Indeed, should Pep Guardiola’s men emerge from London with a strong victory in February, with the victorious supporters having paid just over half of what dejected Arsenal fans had to, the only remaining justification to the seemingly extortionate costs facing British football fans is that they remain willing to cough up whatever is demanded of them.

And, unlike in the case of Bayern diehards, there appears little reward for such undeterred loyalty on the horizon – even if Arsenal finally end their lengthy silverware drought this year.