The way in which the Football Association tickets the FA Cup final has, once again, faced a backlash from supporters following the release of details regarding this season's showpiece event.
Liverpool revealed on Wednesday afternoon that they have been allocated little over 25,000 tickets for the final against Chelsea on May 5, with the cheapest ticket available priced at £45.
But only 16 percent of the allocation are priced in this bracket, with the majority of supporters faced with the prospect of paying £85 to watch the Reds face Chelsea at Wembley, while the most expensive ticket costs £115.
In comparison, the majority of tickets for this season's German Cup final between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich were sold for as little as €25 by the DFB.
Liverpool supporters immediately took to Twitter to register their disgust at such exorbitant prices, while also to speculate as to where the remainder of the tickets - when accounting for Chelsea fans - would be allocated.
With Wembley able to seat 90,000 people, this leaves 40,000 seats unavailable directly to the clubs involved in the final; something which has become an annual talking point for frustrated supporters.
The ticket prices for the final also represent a 22 percent increase from the semi-final encounters last weekend, while the participants in the last four of the competition were afforded 31,000 tickets each for the respective matches.
So where does this apparent surplus in tickets go? Well, firstly, the 17,000 members of Club Wembley are essentially season ticket holders at the stadium, with their membership covering numerous events - including the FA Cup final.
Tickets are also provided to the 'football family' i.e. the grassroots of the game and to the 763 clubs who entered this year's competition.
But there are fears that such tickets may be sold on the black market at hugely inflated costs; some supporters' authorities are desperate to avoid.
With this in mind, Malcolm Clark, chairman of he Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF), has urged the FA to provide clarity as to the destination of the surplus tickets for the Cup final every year.
“It is something we have called for for a number of years now,” Clark told the Liverpool Echo.
“What should happen is there should be an open, public debate between the FA and supporters.
“In it, the FA would, or should, we believe, publish a full breakdown of exactly where the tickets go. It seems a fair and reasonable request.
“People do understand where we are coming from, and I am hopeful we can make progress on this front before too long.”
Clark also believes that some tickets outside of each club's allocation will inevitably find their way into the hands of supporters, who may be encouraged to purchase them potentially illegally.
"Needless to say it is our contention that the allocation of 25,000 tickets per club, for a major cup final involving Liverpool and Chelsea, should be much bigger," he added.
"These are huge clubs, and we are in a position where season-ticket holders at both clubs will not be guaranteed a cup final ticket.
“Liverpool, for example, took 32,000 tickets for last weekend’s semi-final, and now they will get 25,000 for the final.
“The figures speak for themselves; almost a quarter of supporters who paid for the semi final will be unable to get a cup final ticket through their club.
“We know, from past experiences, that a lot of the excess tickets will make their way, somehow, into the hands of supporters.
“So why not allow clubs a greater allocation, which they can then distribute in a fairer manner?”
This matter is becoming a yearly embarrassment for the Football Association, and one they would rather avoid having already faced extreme criticism following the scheduling of the FA Cup semi-finals.
The association have also been forced to defend the decision to move the final from its traditional kick-off time of 1500 to 1715, after fan groups expressed concern about the potential travel chaos it would cause.
Unsurprisingly, the FA once again failed to take supporters into account in order to pander to the needs of broadcasters and sponsors.
"We stated on record at the end of last season's final that we were looking at a later kick-off time after an FA review of the competition with fans and broadcasters," said a spokesman.
"The later time also maximises a bigger domestic and global TV audience for broadcasters."
The FA would appear to view themselves as a bastion of integrity when compared to other national associations, yet they are doing very little to appease those who believe they place commercial sponsors and organisations above genuine fans.
Fans deserve to know why are unable to support their respective teams in far greater numbers, and why they are requested to pay such substantial fees in order to do so.
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