x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Ticket price hike by Athletic Bilbao for away fans is poor form

Not only have the greedy Basques managed to erode much of the goodwill usually bestowed on them not just from their English visitors, but from the wider body of football fans.

Most Athletic Bilbao's fans will not have to pay as much as Manchester United supporters when they meet in the Europa League.
Most Athletic Bilbao's fans will not have to pay as much as Manchester United supporters when they meet in the Europa League.

More than 6,000 Athletic Bilbao supporters will journey to England for tomorrow's Europa League last 16 first leg game against Manchester United. The impressive following will be the biggest at Old Trafford in European history, with Athletic fans paying £36 (Dh208) each for tickets.

History will be made a week later when 1,700 United fans travelling to Bilbao, but for the wrong reasons. The €92 (Dh444) ticket price will be the most expensive United fans have ever paid - and over twice what Basques will pay in Manchester.

The English champions have rightly complained to Uefa while Athletic, who were considered to be more in touch with fans than most, have issued a feeble defence. They claim Athletic fans in adjacent sections will pay the same as visitors but that is highly misleading, for 35,321 Athletic fans are club members who have access to tickets for €35.

That leaves 2,000 tickets for home fans who have to pay top price, the big game glory hunters who get stung for the privilege. Why, though, should visiting fans also be punished with shockingly high prices?

The Spanish media have finally shone a light in the dark corner of away ticket prices in Spain and the results have staggered. Despite being in an economic crisis, Spain has the most expensive away tickets in Europe. Not only have the greedy Basques managed to erode much of the goodwill usually bestowed on them not just from their English visitors, but from the wider body of football fans.