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UEFA need to listen to supporters

With a European final in less than a week, travel booked and plans made all talk should be of the game. Instead much of it surrounds the venue and UEFA’s decision to stage such a prestigious match at Basel’s St Jakob’s Park.

 

The 38,000-capacity stadium is the smallest used in recent years. UEFA defend the selection by referencing low attendances at previous season's finals, thereby prioritising how the stadium will look on television rather than the needs of supporters. This is not the first time, and we are not the only ones to complain of allocations and stadium choices for European finals. Both Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid have objected to their allocations for this season’s Champions League final.

 

UEFA must have their reasons for choosing specific cities and stadiums, past attendances apart, though they choose not to disclose them. Appointing a ground the size of St Jakob’s Park is a snub to loyal supporters of many sides. But it is not just about the number of tickets. There are questions about transport, screening of the match, designated squares and areas for each set of fans, policing and stewarding on the day.

 

Liverpool have a huge following, and now we have qualified, UEFA seem to want to wash their hands of any responsibility. The appointment of Basel was made two years ago. While we are unhappy about a low allocation, we acknowledge it is too late to move, but do want to work with the relevant authorities to ensure supporter concerns are met.

 

Spirit of Shankly wrote to UEFA in the hope of working with them, unfortunately UEFA are not willing to engage with us. Their response to our email sums up their attitude and disregard for fans. We have also been speaking with the club and, despite the reply from Michael Heselschwerdt, they have had no answers from UEFA to our questions.

 

We will continue to press UEFA for answers and information, and the positive dialogue with the club, but it is UEFA who have the power to address these issues.


In addition, we are working with colleagues at the Football Supporters Federation, and a Fan Embassy, providing information for supporters, will be in place in Basel for Wednesday’s final. Further information will be published in due course.

 

Email to Michael Heselschwerdt, Head of Club Competitions at UEFA

 

Dear Michael

 

I am emailing you on behalf of Spirit Of Shankly, the Liverpool Supporters' Union, ahead of our Europa League Final match versus Sevilla next Wednesday.

 

We have previously been in contact with UEFA alongside the Football Supporters Federation and supporters at Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur to address concerns and issues around the allocation of tickets.

 

However now that the final is just days away, our attention has rightly shifted to how supporters who make the trip to Basel will be treated and what will be available to them. I understand that UEFA have spoken with LFC but in an age of supporter engagement, we felt it appropriate to contact you direct to raise some specific issues that supporters have brought to our attention. 

 

We would welcome the opportunity, despite the short notice, to discuss these further. Our issues are listed below. To provide some context, supporters will travel to Basel in large numbers. A European final is an occasion, to be enjoyed and celebrated. Despite our reservations and disappointment about the choice of Basel as the venue, we have to operate within these defined parameters. Supporters will want to enjoy themselves - and the nature of passionate and loyal football supporters, alongside extortionate travel costs, mean many booked early before ticket selling details were announced. It would be naive for us to not expect many supporters to travel without tickets for the match alongside the thousands who do.

 

With these in mind, could you update us on:

 

1. Screenings of the match - Do UEFA plan to show the match on large screens in the relevant designated squares? It is safe to assume that Liverpool supporters will vastly outnumber Sevilla supporters. We understand there will be a square designated to supporters of each club and one that remains neutral. We would like to suggest that the match be screened in at least the LFC and neutral square, to provide a focal point for supporters wishing to watch the match.

 

2. Transport - Liverpool supporters, due to high costs of travel, will be making their way to Basel via a number of routes across surrounding countries by air and land. Whilst getting into Basel ahead of the game is 'relatively' free of problems, supporters face significant problems getting back to where they plan to stay. This is due to the scarcity of available hotels in Basel. Many are staying in surrounding areas, such as Mulhouse over the border into France, Weil am Rhein and Freiburg in Germany, and surrounding towns and cities in Switzerland. There is little or no public transport available to these locations for supporters after the match. Will UEFA be working with local authorities to ensure transport is available for supporters? We have a list of locations provided to us by supporters. 

 

3. Policing and Stewarding - Would you be able to update us about plans for policing and stewarding of supporters in Basel? We have worked extensively with police forces in the UK to share supporter issues with them and vice versa which has been beneficial to all sides. It would be useful if we could be updated and involved in plans for the day, such as planned searches, ticket checks, any cordons, etc. 

 

4. Entertainment - Within the designated squares, supporters have asked questions about the entertainment and facilities that will be provided. What are the plans for these squares? Again we would welcome the opportunity to discuss these with you to ensure they are appropriate and are therefore a success.

 

If you would like to discuss any of these further, we are more than willing and able to assist. I look forward to hearing from you. 

 

Kind Regards

 

James McKenna

Chair

Spirit Of Shankly

 

www.spiritofshankly.com

Twitter - @spiritofshankly

Facebok - /spiritofshankly 

 

Response from Michael Heselschwerdt

 

Dear James

 

Thanks for your note.

All the requested information has been made available to the responsible persons at LFC and I would kindly ask you to get in touch with them.

 

Kind regards

Michael



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