Chelsea reduce ticket prices - but will it really matter?

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Despite investing hundreds of millions of pounds to transform Chelsea from Champions League qualification hopefuls into three-time Premier League winners, Roman Abramovich is never immune from the ire of the club's supporters.

The Russian has been widely criticised for his botched managerial appointments and failure to afford any of his tacticians enough time to build a side capable of continental glory.

This season, however, began with disgruntled supporters citing exorbitant ticket prices as the reason for their aggravation, rather than any particular misgivings about performances on the pitch.

Chelsea opted to hike fees for Champions League tickets by 33 percent at the start of this campaign, with the price rising to £40 for adults.

This led to supporter groups to campaign about the boycott of fixtures in the competition, and less than 34,000 spectators attended the Group E encounter with Bayer Leverkusen at Stamford Bridge in September.

The current campaign was always going to be a particularly tricky one for Abramovich, as he attempts to streamline an expensive playing squad with the Financial Fair Play regulations on the horizon, while keeping fans happy.

So far, the Chelsea owner has been unable to do either with early season fan protests followed by a sustained period of bad form that leaves the Blues managerless and facing the prospect of missing out on next season's Champions League.

Something was going to have to give eventually, and the departure of Andre Villas-Boas has been quickly followed by news of an altered price structure for tickets next season.

There will be price freeze on season tickets, matchday tickets for members and general sale seats for adults, juniors and senior citizens, while offering a minimal decrease on European tickets.

Naturally, the caveat to Champions League prices being dropped will be if Chelsea qualify for the competition and, should they do so, match tickets will be reduced to £35 for adults and £17.50 for seniors/juniors from their current prices of £40 and £20.

"The club has taken the decision not to increase prices for the coming season as we deeply appreciate our loyal following at Stamford Bridge and feel this is the right approach to take in the current economic conditions where budgets may be under pressure," the club's chief executive Ron Gourlay told

Chelsea fans are, perhaps, enduring a tough time on the first occasion during the Abramovich era, but merely a change in ticket prices will not appease supporters.

After the failure of Villas-Boas, Abramovich is under pressure to make the right appointment at the end of the season, with his club on an apparent slide.

Reports of dressing room unrest still persist despite the departure of the Portuguese, with Raul Meireles accused of storming off the pitch after the defeat of Birmingham in an apparent show of solidarity with his compatriot.

Villas-Boas' permanent successor, whoever that may be, may still have to oversee a raft of changes at the club, with the likes of Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard tipped to be moved on.

However, before any of this can happen, the pressure is on caretaker boss Roberto di Matteo to arrest the slide and prevent the unthinkable happening - the failure to qualify for, at the very worst, next season's Europa League.

It could, then, transpire that a change to ticket prices is almost rendered irrelevant, with some fair weather fans set to be turned off by a side unable to boast European football and shorn of some its most idolised players.

The next few months will prove pivotal in Abramovich's Chelsea reign.

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