Chelsea FC's first Champions League match of the season is on September 15th against Slovakian champions MSK Zilina. The Blues will be traveling to Zilina for the game, where they will be playing at the excellently named Pod Dubnom in front of Zilina's notoriously raucous fans. Or, they would be, if any of them could afford tickets.
The final round of qualifiers was supposedly worth in the region of £15M to each victorious team. For those on the edge on contention in lucrative leagues like the Premiership, that's a huge deal. For those in smaller divisions, the revenue difference between qualifying for the Champions League group stages vs. the Europa League is massive.
As mentioned in the article above, tickets for the 10,800 seat Pod Dubnom normally sell for between €10 and €20. That €10 will cover a hot dog and a beer, and gives you access to most of the stadium; the €20 tickets are the VIP seats. Great deal, right? In a country where the average salary sits at €705 per month (and the median far below that), it's nice to see the fans not getting completely screwed most of the time.
Slovakian football doesn't bring in much money or attention, so it's a little surprising that instead of rewarding supporters - they traveled huge numbers and great voice to the qualification matches - for their efforts in bringing the team a huge windfall, Zilina has decided to hike up ticket prices by an extraordinary amount. Those €10 seats? Now they range between €50 and €200. A VIP ticket will now set you back €400, for a cost increase of 2,000%. Nice.
How much money are they going to be making out of this? Assuming the stadium gets sold out anyway and making an educated guess as to the distribution of the seats, a back-of-the-envelope calculation yields an extra income of roughly €1M per match. That's obviously a big deal, and with the team trying to expand I'm sure they could use all the money they can get.
However, is that €1M worth possibly alienating your fans? There is no way that the huge hike in prices doesn't effect the composition of the crowd, and if the most hardcore supporters can't watch their team live that's a gigantic shame. The whole reward for them being fans is to be able to experience the highs and lows of the team, but what looks like is happening is that MSK Zilina has the fans finance them when convenient and then completely fail to reward their loyalty. It's really pretty shameful behaviour, and I'm embarrassed that a visit from my club is being exploited in such a manner.