The low attendances at Manchester City’s home Champions League games have been an issue for a while. As a season-ticket holder, I think it is chiefly down to prices.
Season-ticket prices rose yet again this season, some by as much as 10 per cent. For those seats, that means adding up to £80 to the price of a season ticket, leaving less capacity to buy tickets to additional cup matches.
Furthermore, tickets on the day for the Roma match were priced from £35 to £40, an increase in walk-up prices on last year. For Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup one week before, they were £15 to £20.
For a Premier League match, the block above the South Stand goal would be full of season-ticket holders. On Tuesday night, it was empty: many season-ticket holders – me included – have opted out of the Uefa Competition Cup Scheme guaranteeing entry to every match because they have other priorities. Also, City fans are consistently ranked among the poorest by income in the Premier League.
There is some truth to the argument that City don’t have the habit of being in the Champions League. This is a club that has a decent tradition in Europe, though not in its flagship competition. An inferiority complex is inevitable; like Chelsea, it’ll lessen only with time. There’s also a sense that the competition has lost its novelty, particularly during the group stage: we’ve been paired with Bayern Munich in three out of four years and CSKA Moscow twice consecutively. That monotony needs to be addressed.
Finally, it may sound trite but Uefa’s alcohol ban at Champions League games creates a poor atmosphere, and if fans don’t think the match-day experience is worth the outlay compared with a domestic away or cup match, then even the most loyal will vote with their feet.
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