THURSDAY was jubilant. Exactly what you are in it all for. All the tension you have been feeling all week disappears and all that remains is ecstasy. All the nerves you felt every time Villarreal attacked a distant memory, replaced by pure joy. Another European final. Get them flights booked, Mick, we’re off to Basel.
The reason Jürgen Klopp is so popular as a manager, apart from being really good at his job and that, is that he gets it. It’s exactly what he is in it for, too. They say of Bill Shankly, simply, that: “He made the people happy.” Not that he won loads of trophies, or signed loads of players. The t-shirts and posters and indeed the inscription on his statue outside The Kop say: “He made the people happy.”
Klopp is cut from the same cloth. He knows that football without fans is nothing. On Thursday he wanted to win, not for himself, but for the 40,000 Liverpool fans in the ground and the millions watching around the world. So when we get to the final he invites the whole family. Because why wouldn’t we all go? It’s what we are all in it for. He wants to make the people happy.
His comments that 100,000 Reds will go to Basel should have been a battle cry. Instead they are met with panic. Why wouldn’t we all go? Because the chances of getting tickets are close to zero. Because you are likely to be staying miles away because there are no hotels. Because there are hardly any flights in and out and the few there are cost about the same as a flight to New York.
So Klopp, the man who has been brought in to make the people happy, to turn us from doubters into believers, to make us dream, has to go on TV and say sorry. Sorry for suggesting that a Europa League final, the biggest occasion for the club in years, should be something celebrated by all. Instead, there is a strict guest list. The rest of you have to watch on TV. Don’t worry, we’ll tell you all about it when we get back. We’ll flog you a DVD, or sell you a programme.
Basel was awarded the Europa League final back in September 2014, which seems a ridiculously long time to plan a Europa League final when football clubs have to plan a semi-final in the matter of weeks or a cup replay in a matter of days. I’d love to know what Basel actually did for the first year they knew they had a Europa League final. “Yeah, all the seats are still here. Check again in a month.”
In response to criticism of the stadium size — reduced to just 36,000 from 38,512 for European football, smaller than a number of Championship grounds in England — UEFA said: “It is impossible to predict in advance which clubs will reach the final.” I would agree that it is difficult when you pick the venue before you know who is even in the competition that year. But why not plan for the best possible outcome rather than the worst?
UEFA have made plenty of noises that they want to boost the profile of the competition. Then they pick a venue based on two poorly-supported teams making the final, rather than having the contingency that one well-supported one might get there. There might be empty seats in a bigger ground depending on the teams who reach the final, but so what? Who cares if you have as many people as possible in the ground making a racket?
People have been quick to point out that previous finals haven’t sold out. But the average attendance of the last six finals is around 45,000 (Thanks to Barry Glendenning for doing the maths for me). So even predicting the attendance on the norm rather than budgeting for better shows that this stadium is too small (the second smallest venue to EVER host the final in fact).
So Liverpool fans are left with around 10,000 tickets, with around half of that figure available to “normal’ fans and a very small number to scramble about for in a ballot today for those who have “just” been to every home European game this season. But, in all honesty, whatever we got ticket-wise it wouldn’t be enough. And if you haven’t got a ticket, the fact we have got 20,000 rather than 10,000 doesn’t make you any happier. But you should be able to enjoy the trip regardless.
The choice of city has actually annoyed me more than the stadium itself. For many after the semi final win it was a case of book your flights quick and worry about a ticket later. To be told that the city is effectively closed for you is a disgrace. “Don’t come, you’re not welcome.” UEFA should be turning it into a festival of football. Instead they seem to want to disparage those for daring to turn up.
When we went to Brazil for the World Cup (did I tell you I went to Brazil for the World Cup?) we had tickets for some games but were happy to watch the rest in fan parks just being part of the atmosphere. Images from these fan parks were beamed round the world. It wasn’t just about the full stadiums. Many who have booked travel to Basel will be hoping to get a ticket somehow, but will mostly be happy to be with their mates and hopefully part of the celebrations after. They should be treated as part of the party, rather than a potential nuisance.
UEFA need to change their attitude to these games and maximise the potential of them being fantastic football events; to see swarms of fans as something that adds to an occasion rather than a headache they have to deal with. But football clubs also need to be more proactive in how they deal with these situations, rather than shrugging their shoulders and acting like there is nothing they can do if they reach a final.
Spirit of Shankly, along with supporter trusts from Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, actually wrote to UEFA earlier in the season to point out that should any English club get to the Europa League final, the ticket allocation will be wholly inadequate. They received a predictable reply. However, surely it should be the clubs themselves who are lobbying UEFA. They are more powerful and much more difficult to fob off. They can create more of a fuss in the media, too.
If clubs in England care about fans as much as they claim, they should be lobbying UEFA for minimum requirements in terms of stadium and city for all European finals. If UEFA care about the Europa League as much as they claim then they should be happy to oblige, safe in the knowledge that some years there will be (God forbid) a few empty seats.
Liverpool are members of the European Club Association. Along with eight other English teams. Apparently in 2012 they were given “a greater influence in the decision making processes at UEFA.” Heard of them, much? Me neither. Feels like it’s about time they did something.
Just as an add-on to the average attendance stat, one year, Sevilla-Benfica was in Turin in May 2014 which holds 35000. If you remove this year from your average it works out as 47000. Startling idiocy from Uefa. They booked Basle 4 months later.
If the final was Liverpool v United surely there’s no way it could of been played there
of course it would be played there…and you know exactly where any fingers will point if there is even the smallest piece of disorder.
I’ll bet the Liverpool Utd tie was fixed for that very reason. You’re right, it would have gone ahead in Basel but it’s impossible to have that tie there. No one likes a fixed draw but there’s simply no alternative. I think were we both in the last 4 it would certainly would have been discussed.
Spot on son.
Basel Faulty or Swiss Miss?
“The 2003 Europa League final had what UEFA described at the time as “the largest travelling support to have assembled for a single game”– around 80,000 Celtic fans travelled to Seville for the final. For this turnout and the manner with which they conducted themselves, Celtic fans received an award from FIFA and UEFA,”
Firstly, UEFA can fuck off if we take 50k or more to Basel – they’ve given out fucking awards for it in the past!
Secondly, did they not fucking learn that sometimes teams can have huge support?
Same old, same old UEFA. A football manager trying to whip up his club’s fan base post semi final win is somehow worthy of an apology and yet these oblivious old buffoons who are on the gravy train to make common sense decisions can’t understand why their judgement is being questioned. The people running this game haven’t got a clue.
This is the guts of it isn’t it. It’s not just about tickets – the cluelessness knows now bounds. Okay for 10 players to surround the ref and wave a card in his face but when Joe rips he shirt off having won us the EL he will go in the book.
And I’m still waiting for us to receive the 2007 CL trophy, Milan having been ineligible to enter.
Reminds me: see how appreciative all of about four City fans when Pellegrini was giving a bit of a goodbye speech? May as well award us the 2014 premier league title too while you’re there because they don’t seem that bothered. For Rodgers’ CV and Gerrard’s insomnia more than anything.
Not to mention City should have been docked points for breaching the financial fail play rules that season, I think they got a £70K fine instead
Class pure class. Bring your deck chairs and behave! YNWA
Home of money laundering and FIFA corruption scandal in strange decision shocker. To be fair, Millennium won’t be anywhere big enough next year.
Fuckin hell! I’ve got about 10 messages open on fb. My phone’s going off every minute. If all these leads come through I’ll end up with about 10 tickets. One will do though. It feels like the ship is sinking and only a tenth of the people can get on the life boat and the ones who can pull a favour with the captain are in. I’ve helped so many people in Chester get tickets I want a favour returned on this one. It’s looking a lot more positive than it was this morning though.
Looks like I’ve got one though from a mate who’s son plays football with my lad. He’s been successful but he can’t find a response in relation to his son. If his son isn’t successful then he’s not going and it’s mine.
The next best lead is from my mate who I booked the flights with. He’s had to pull out this morning because of work. What’s annoying is Lufthansa won’t allow him to change the name on the flights. Absolutely no chance. A real pisser because they’re Mancs to Basel arrive midday leave 6am for £150 (booked after the Dortmund win). They’re just going to waste now. His mate was successful and said he can have it. He’s saying if it’s confirmed with his mate then I can have it. It’s all tense stuff. Didn’t need to be like this.
Even when we get there it’s gonna be tense. I’m really tight with money. When I go out in a group I buy my own drinks cos I drink John Smith and they drink shorts and shots with their pints. So, bearing in mind the price of Switzerland it’s an added worry for me. I’m gonna buy drink from the duty free, have a fry up in Mancs airport (which I’ve never done before cos I can’t bring myself to pay £8 for a breakfast) and then not eat till I get home at 10 the next day. It’s just a stupid city to have the final in. Boring as well as sights go. All finals should be played in Amsterdam.
With you all the way on the Dam suggestion,
Hope u get sorted Robin.
Ta mate, got 1 guaranteed. Another is a very strong likelihood as the bloke isn’t going and he said it’s mine but waiting for him to get back from work. Then I’ve got one on the reserve list find out Thursday (won’t happen though as I’d presume everyone will take them).
I’m in a panic because dickheads are putting ebay shots on fb of tickets going for 1000’s. I hope they don’t see them and change their mind. Doubt the girl who’s promised me one will. She’s calling me at 9 in the morning to sort it. My heads completely gone though. Need it in my hand.
I’m alright with the final being in Basel. Think it’ll be nice and cosy, haha.
If you’ve a spare let me know, I’ve got the flight booked from Heathrow to Zurich and a crappy B&B sorted.
My borther was supposed to come too but he’s got cold feet
Hi mate. I wanted to reply because of my experience of being kept waiting but to be honest I’m still looking for 1 for the lad I’m going with.
My ‘guaranteed’ one fell through. She called me and said, yeah, it’s yours etc. I’ll call you at 9 in the morning to go online and sort it then blanked me all day. Finally got a text off her today saying her son was considering going providing he could get his passport done in time. If not I could have it. I suspect she’s after a grand for it on ebay.
Luckily, the strong lead came through. Restricted view but not really bothered about that. Probably lost a mate in the process I pestered him so much. He’d also got wind he could get 2k for it. The stress of the whole thing nearly killed me.
Hope you get sorted mate. It’s an absolute joke tbh. Good fans can’t get tickets and other fans are making a killing off their own fans.
Little logic in UEFA or the city of Basel. If you want to hold a Europa Cup final in a small city with a small ground then have plenty of fan zones so fans can absorb the atmosphere. If as a small city you do not want this then don’t put yourself forward because you are just going to look like a bunch of mean spirited bastards in Europe and then the world as the fans of large clubs become pissed off and tweet, blog and generally complain. Never been to Isantbul but I would quite like to go because its where we won it for the fifth time, i know the stadium is miles away but sounds like a good thing to do and a reason to go to the city. Basel is a nice city with a good museam i would like to visit (Beyeler Foundation) and all the Vitra stuff but basically the city together with UEFA have flicked the V’s at football fans if you are not one of the chosen few so i won’t be visiting the city in the future I’ll go to Istanbul instead.
Basel is not such a small City than you believe. Basel-City (down town) Population is 200’0000 however Metro Basel has over 800’000. The City is much bigger than Liverpool !
Someone somewhere is doing lines of grade A coke off a hookers ass on the back of this decision,
Basel, Quatar, Russia ffs,
Couldn’t give a shit about fans.
They don’t even care enough to fake competence anymore. The piss take is so blatant. This is what happens when arseholes are put in charge for years with no one to hold them to account.
I just love the fact that your arl fella always comments.
I can smell the proudness from here.
Whilst palms are greased, fans will be fleeced…. Corruption of the highest order be it FIFA, UEFA, FA, IOC or UCI. Lessons of Heysel & Hillsborough have not been learnt. 1989 we were told a contributing factor of Hillsborough was late arrivals, so in 1990 The FA in their wisdom decide Liverpool v Palace to be played at Viila Park would be
the early K.O. Meanwhile Utd v Oldham to be played at Maine Road would be the later K.O. Realistically the finalists can be determined after the Quarter Final ties. Logic would be to put on standby 2 or 3 grounds based on logistics of Semi Finalists and a minimum capacity of 50,000. That would be common sense and as we know they couldn’t give a flying one about fans. However if it goes belly up watch out for the mud flinging.
UEFA are a disgrace. They couldn’t organise a p*** up in a brewery.
However, just a thought….could LFC organise a fan zone either at Anfield or in Stanley Park or at the Pier Head? Big screen, food and bevvy available.
I guess it might be too short notice but it would be an opportunity for the club to thank the fans.
Didn’t they announce this about 6pm? The club I mean
What gets me is that you can apply for a ticket as a ‘neutral fan’ in March without knowing who is going to be in the final. At best you end up with a load of people who have no affinity with any of the teams in the final at worst they resell their tickets for a multiple of the face value which surprise surprise is what has happened. Given what happened at Heysel you’d think that this would no longer happen. I don’t know what the Seville fans are like but given what we saw prior to the Euros in Ukraine had Shakhtar reached the final and their lunatic fringe got tickets in the neutral section then that might have made for a very interesting night and yes we would probably be in the spotlight again. Suspect that someone had their palm greased to let Basel host the final. Why can’t they name two or three venues and depending on who gets to the final they can then give the green light to a stadium based on size of fan base, geography and ease of travel. Could be short notice but as another person has said, that’s is what you need to do as you progress through the competition.
Looks like it’s going to happen according to the Echo!
All this ticketless fan talk from authorities is a little disconcerting….
Fact is, outside the clubs involved, the Europa isn’t that popular a competition. Was I looking forward to last years Europa Final? Of course not.
I agree with Klopp…has VillaReal and Seville gone through, then 28000 in n Basel would have been perfect. You can’t have an empty stadium in a final underlining the fact the Europa is second division Europe.
Klopps heart was is with the supporters. Hence his first statement.
His head was with the reality of 500,000 fans descending on little ole Basel. Neither the town or the Police are up to the task.
Of course the final should be moved to Paris, Rome, Munich or a Major city now. But that would be common sense.
I was going to go to Basel, but now wil be watching it in town. With my Scouse brothers and sisters! Hopefully the match will be shown on that big telly or they will build a big telly on the pier head…with the Liver building as a back drop….
Empty seats vs safety/fairness… it shouldn’t really be a difficult decision, should it?
It shouldn’t…. And you could argue UEFA itself doesn’t think much of the Europa league competition by choosing a 28000 seat ground in a backwoods town.
Make no mistake, the idiots are taking over.
The match will probably be televised in Anfield on a big screen… and tickets will be £18 or £20
We are an FSG franchise…. The Europa final is a revenue stream.
Silly me for thinking the people of Liverpool had anything to do with the club.
Think the ongoing building work means Anfield is out doesn’t it?
Echo reports City centre.. But given games are being played at Anfield I suppose it’s feasible.
No fucking way am I paying for a ticket to watch it in town.
Alehouse telly and beer.
Greedy FSG bastards.
Dreadful choice of ground – a stadium that only holds less then 40,000 seems to be a joke. But it is what it is and at the end of the day the main thing is that Liverpool get the result they deserve. After beating 3 of the best teams in the europa league over the last 3 round surley its going to be out name on the cup – Come on you Red men!!! YNWA