Are the European finals a disgrace to football?
By Joe Harker
The two European cup finals will be contested by four English teams, three of them London based and the other being Liverpool.
They will face Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League while Arsenal and Chelsea compete for the Europa League.
Two managers will end the competition with their first trophies at their respective clubs, while the others will be left to contemplate what might have been. For Arsenal the prospect of Champions League qualification also looms.
For such a spectacle one might be forgiven for thinking tens of thousands of fans from each of the four clubs would be heading off to see their team in the final, but you'd be wrong.
The ticket allocations for the competition have been criticised by all four clubs. Liverpool and Spurs will share an allocation of 33,226 tickets to play in a stadium with almost 68,000 seats, Chelsea and Arsenal have been allocated just 12,000 tickets to fill a ground of similar size. The rest of the tickets will be sold by third party sites or handed out to sponsors.
Basic ticket prices for the two finals range from £26 to £513 but third party sites are charging thousands for tickets on re-sale. Combined with the cost of flights and accommodation many fans are being priced out of seeing their team on the biggest night of the season.
The selection of Baku in Azerbaijan to host the Europa League final has also raised many eyebrows. UEFA calculated that the city could handle no more than a combined total of 15,000 fans arriving for the final, which begs the question as to why on earth they were selected to host the final in the first place.
Modern football is expected to bend over backwards for sponsors, handing out a majority of final tickets to non-fans is expected despite the derision. But picking a stadium for a European final and calculating that traveling fans will be able to fill less than a quarter of it is ridiculous.
The Counter Claim:
UEFA have defended their decision as best they can, claiming they conduct ticket allocations in a "responsible" manner.
They said that because the finalists are unknown when the host stadium is chosen it was not obvious how many fans would want to follow their team to the final.
With the venue selected around two years in advance and the airport capacity in Baku taken into account UEFA worked out the ticket allocation based on practicality. Without knowing how many fans wanted to travel and where they might be coming from they had to set a target.
UEFA argued that it would be irresponsible to allocate more tickets to fans when they could not guarantee everyone would make it to the stadium for the final.
The Champions League final will be played on June 1 at Atletico Madrid's Wanda Metropolitano stadium, with a capacity of 67,829. It will be the fifth competition final held in Madrid, with the previous four hosted at Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
Liverpool are aiming to win their sixth Champions League/European Cup, the game will be their ninth final in the competition. The club have competed in European football in three of manager Jurgen Klopp's four seasons at the club and under his leadership have reached a final on all three occasions.
Klopp previously reached the Champions League final in 2013 but was defeated by Bayern Munich. This is the manager's seventh cup final, of which he has only won his first.
This will be Spurs' first Champions League final and only the second cup final the club has reached under manager Mauricio Pochettino, who has been in charge since 2014.
The Europa League final will be played on May 29 at the Baku Olympic Stadium in Azerbaijan, with a capacity of 68,700.
Chelsea won the Europa League in 2013, having won the Champions League the season before. This is the first season they have competed in the Europa League since winning it and it is the first European final they have reached since then.
For manager Maurizio Sarri it is his second cup final of the season, having never reached a final in his managerial career before joining Chelsea.
This is Arsenal's second consecutive season in the Europa League after 17 consecutive seasons in the Champions League, where they reached the final in 2006. Manager Unai Emery won the competition three times in a row as Sevilla manager between 2014 and 2016.