Donald MacInnes: This sporting life can be pricey, but it's often well worth it

In The Red
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The Independent Online

There was a story this week about some foreign Olympic committees allegedly trying to flog their tickets to some of London's sexier events, in deals so shady you could sit under them on a hot day drinking cold pop.

My mate Jamie paid many beans for his tickets to the men's 200 metres final, but his was a transaction bereft of back alleys and whispered solicitations.

However, all of this reminds me of the most I ever paid for a sporting event… actually, three events.

Some years ago, myself and two gentlemen friends went to Spain for a three-day glut of football.

On the first night, we entered Real Madrid's hallowed Santiago Bernabé* stadium to see the home team play Bayern Munich, paying £112 each for our seats. A lot of money, yes, but I count this as perhaps the best value I ever gleaned from the Queen's coin, given that the Bernabé* is one of the planet's genuine footballing cathedrals; somewhere I had longed to be since I was a kid.

Also, that night happened to represent the last-ever Champions League appearance for Los Blancos by your very own David Beckham. The sound of 85,000 Madridistas chanting Dave's name as he took one of his world-famous free kicks will stay with me forever. Value for money? Oh, yes.

The following day we flew to Barcelona and that night took our seats (having each paid £256) to watch the home team play Liverpool.

Now, he being an Everton fan, the aforementioned Jamie wouldn't give you tuppence ha'penny for a ticket to watch the Reds, but I considered it just about worth it, to be part of a crowd of 93,000 people in the legendary Camp Nou stadium, even if it turned out to be a woeful game.

The next night, we hit the same city's Olympic Stadium to watch Espanyol play Italian team Livorno. The tickets may have cost "just" £66 – and being in the very venue where Sally Gunnell and Linford Christie won gold medals was cool – but it was a terrible game.

Truth is, the previous two nights, costly or not, were always going to leave the third in the doldrums, such was the excitement they engendered.

The one highlight of a flat old night was at the end when one of the Livorno players ran to his fans, stripped off his kit, boots and socks and threw the lot, apart from his pants, into the crowd.

One doesn't often laugh at a football match, but that was funny. I trust it doesn't take this kind of behaviour by Usain Bolt to make Jamie's outlay worthwhile.

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