Barcelona will not change their pricing policy for visiting supporters for April’s Champions League second leg against Manchester United, a club spokesman confirmed to ESPN FC.
United said on Wednesday that their fans are being subjected to “increased/excessive ticket prices” for the quarterfinal return match at Camp Nou on April 16.
As a result, the Premier League club said they will increase the prices for away supporters for the first leg game at Old Trafford a week earlier. The cost for Barca fans will rise from £75 to match the £102 which the Catalan club are charging.
United explained in a email to supporters they will use “the additional revenue gained from this to subsidise our travelling support by paying the £27 price difference for each of our travelling supporters.”
Barca have defended their pricing strategy, though, which they said was consistent and has not been hiked up.
“The prices are the same for the [Man Utd] fans and for our own supporters,” a spokesman said. “The pricing policy is in keeping with recent knockout games against Lyon and Roma in the last year.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s Man United, Juventus or Lyon — these are the prices for everyone attending the game — not including season ticket holders who have all three competitions [La Liga, the Champions League and the Copa del Rey] included in the prices they pay each year.
“Season tickets at Barcelona are cheaper [than at Man Utd]. The cheapest one costs around £120 and includes every competition. At Old Trafford, it costs more than £500 and that’s only for the Premier League games. Everything needs to be in context.”
However, Barca will compensate their own supporters who have seen ticket prices increased for their trip to Old Trafford. The club will reduce the cost of the official trip to Manchester from €250 to €210. That figure includes a return chartered flight and transport to and from the stadium but not the ticket itself.
United made a similar complaint when they played Sevilla last season. On that occasion, the La Liga side ended up reducing the cost of tickets for visiting supporters. United fans were also unhappy about ticket prices at the Mestalla, when they travelled to face Valencia in this season’s group stage.
Anderlecht were charged recently by UEFA for a ticket price increase when Bayern Munich visited last season. The Belgian side breached Article 19 (3) of UEFA’s safety and security regulations by increasing prices.
But Barca don’t believe they will be subject to similar treatment because they are not charging United fans more than anyone else.
“UEFA’s rules oblige prices to be the same for all fans,” the spokesman said. “You can’t think about reducing prices for just one team because that wouldn’t be fair on the other teams [Barca have played].”
A Manchester United Supporters Trust spokesperson told ESPN FC: “Time and time again Manchester United’s travelling supporters have been ripped off in Europe by the greed of home clubs.
“While our own club has got better at fighting our corner, and indeed has ensured the price our fans will pay in Barcelona is no longer £102, it is time for UEFA to intervene and stop exploiting away fans who’ve often already paid a fortune to get to the game.
“Barcelona charging us member prices for away tickets would have not cost them much at all — certainly compared to [Lionel] Messi’s wages.
“MUST has been working closely with Football Supporters Europe (FSE) to challenge UEFA both on specific cases and the need for new rules. We are now keen to work together with FSE, MUFC and others to press this issue and ensure that rules and scrutiny processes are in place to prevent further abuse in next season’s competition.”
A spokesperson for UEFA said: “We do not have any updated statement or comment to make regarding this topic at this stage.
“We can refer you to comments from the UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin in December.”
In December, Ceferin said UEFA was aware of the problem and that European football’s governing body would look into capping prices.