The business side of football creates more and more tension in the relationship between top clubs and their hardcore supporters.
Like any other firm, clubs now seek to maximize profits and extinguish any sign of financial inefficiency, including the problematic issue of gate receptions. This led to high ticket prices and now a lot of fans have no financial ability to attend their team home games on regular bases.
The latest clash between the financial interests of a club and the fans occurred on Tuesday in Italy.
Two years had passed since current Italian champions Juventus hosted a Champions League match and the expectations for a great performance from the crowd and the team against a strong Shakhtar Donetsk were high. But when kick off time came, all the stakeholders of the Turin based club were in complete shock: the usually vibrant Juventus Arena was half full and sadly quiet. Only 30,000 instead of the usual full house of 41,000 showed up.
The match ended 1-1 and was probably the Bianconeri’s worst home performance under Coach Antonio Conte.
So what happened?
Quickly after the match the Juventus Ultra’s published a harsh open letter targeting club President Andrea Agnelli: “It is your fault, the curva is becoming a theater where only a few can attend” was the letter’s bottom line.
There was a very valid point in the letter. The ticket prices for the match jumped by almost 100%. Ticket prices for the center stand, for example, spiked from 70 to 130 Euros (!).
But unlike Juve Maglia, the world is not black and white. The “good” news for the club were that the second lowest attendance at short history of the Juventus Arena actually yielded the fifth highest income in terms of gate receipts.
The morning after the Tifosi protest, President Agnelli presented a massive investment worth 350 million euro in the area surrounding the one year old stadium. “It will be another step forward that places us ahead of our Italian competitors and allows us to bridge the gap with those in Europe”, Agnelli said.
So apparently Juve are making the right financial steps towards competiveness. But one question looms in the dark- what is the place of the diehard fans in this story?
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