ZURICH (Reuters) – UEFA has dismissed complaints that the Europa League final venue in Basel is too small, after fans of finalists Liverpool complained that “a large number” of supporters would miss out.
European soccer’s governing body said on Friday that “at least” 9,000 tickets would be reserved each for Liverpool and opponents Sevilla at the 35,000-capacity St Jakob Park.
The Liverpool supporters’ club Spirit of Shankly had issued a statement on Wednesday, before the second leg of Thursday’s semi-final final against Villarreal, warning of the difficulties facing supporters.
“We hope that in future years, UEFA will make changes and stage the final at a ground that allows more genuine supporters of the final clubs to attend,” it said.
“It is crystal clear that this amount of tickets will not be enough to satisfy demand….. Tens of thousands of supporters will have attended every home game this season and a large number will miss out.”
It also complained of “the cost of travel increasing by the minute from greedy travel operators”, a lack of accommodation and lack of public transport out of the city after midnight.
“It is pretty clear that Basel is not best equipped to deal with such large numbers that we have witnessed in previous years,” it added.
UEFA spokesman Pedro Pinto said the final venues were chosen almost two years in advance due to “the enormous logistical effort involved.”
He said the stadium, which is home of Swiss champions FC Basel and hosted matches at Euro 2008, as one of Europe’s “elite venues”, adding that capacity was just one factor taken into account.
“UEFA tends to select slightly smaller, top-quality venues for the UEFA Europa League final,” he said. “This means UEFA can give more of its national associations an opportunity to host a club final.”
“The number of supporters requesting final tickets varies from club to club, and of course it is impossible to predict in advance which clubs will reach the final,” he said, adding that stadium capacity at recent finals had been “very satisfactory.”
UEFA advised ticketless fans not to approach the stadium due to “very tight” security.
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp told reporters on Friday that there was no point complaining about the meagre ticket allocation, but he urged supporters without tickets to travel to Switzerland all the same.
“It’s worth going even if you don’t have a ticket to enjoy the city. We can’t think about the size of the stadium. If you ask who wants to see this final you will find 30 million people so there is no chance. It’s like this.”
Basel’s city government, which has already announced street and tram line closures around the stadium, was closed for a public holiday and could not be reached for comment.
Fans of Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid are facing rocketing costs for the Champions League final in Milan on May 28. On Friday, rooms at even poorly rated hotels were costing more than 200 euros per night while several higher quality hotels were charging over 1,000 euros. It is the second time the Madrid rivals have played their derby final in a foreign city, having also met in Lisbon two years ago.