Arsenal and Chelsea are set to receive just 7,000 tickets each if they reach the Europa League final, marginally over 10% of the 68,700 seater stadium.
There are a lot of things wrong with holding a European final in Azerbaijan. It’s a difficult and expensive place to reach, and it’s been criticised for its human rights record. Asking people to disclose their HIV status to apply for a visa didn’t exactly portray the country in the best light either.
The one advantage of playing at the Olympic Stadium in Baku is that it’s fit for the purpose. The ground holds almost 70,000 fans, more than the Emirates Stadium or Stamford Bridge, and not too far off Wembley.
They filled the stands for Qarabag vs Arsenal in the group stage and the atmosphere was excellent. There would be more than enough room to fit every supporter of the two finalists willing to make the journey.
Except Arsenal and Chelsea wouldn’t actually receive tickets for most of those seats. According to the Daily Mail, they’ll get around 7,000 each if they make the final, 10% of the stadium.
More than half of the stadium has already been put on general sale to the public, though not the Azerbaijani locals, who are being priced out. The rest will go to national associations, commercial partners and broadcasters. Just the kinds of people you need to create a good atmosphere.
The sale of cup final tickets has become a farce. There’s no reason why more than 10% of tickets should go to neutrals, other than pure greed. Unfortunately, despite all the complaints every year, it only seems to be getting worse.