One of UEFA's three European finals is already getting slammed - over its odd planning.
West Ham United will play Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League final on the 7th of June at Prague's Fortuna Arena - the home of Slavia Praha. There's just one problem. Tickets.
Only a select few West Ham fans will get the chance to see their club battle Fiorentina for a European trophy. Just under 5,000 to be exact, which is under ten percent of West Ham's season ticket count.
While the Fortuna Arena (formerly the Eden Arena) lays claim to be the largest and most modern footballing venue in the Czech Republic, it's not exactly amongst Europe's biggest - and 'only' seats 19,370 supporters, of which under 5,000 will be Hammers fans, with Fiorentina gaining an equal allocation - with UEFA keeping/doling out the remainder.
Of course, this isn't at all the fault of West Ham - but their ticket plan has slammed because of UEFA's choices.
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To put it in perspective, there are only two smaller Premier League stadiums than the Fortuna Arena - Bournemouth's Vitality Stadium and Brentford's Gtech Arena.
It'd still be amongst the smaller stadiums in England's second tier of football. Fortuna Park would actually land at around 50th place in a list of biggest stadiums in England if it was suddenly plonked down in Blighty - and is barely bigger than Port Vale's Vale Park.
There's a bit of form for UEFA here. Last season's Europa Conference League final (the competition's first) was held at the 22,500 capacity Arena Kombëtare in Albania. However, next season's is a bit of an upgrade, as 32,500 will fill Athens' Agia Sophia Arena.
It goes without saying; all countries have a right to host great European competitions - but having under twenty-thousand supporters at a final puts fans out.
So, for one of the biggest days in West Ham's recent history, only 4,890 will be able to attend.
And although fans knew the low allocation was coming (the venue has been known for a while), it's still upset them to know just how few tickets will be available:
\u201c@WestHam 4890 tickets and restricted view. Christ\u201d— West Ham United (@West Ham United) 1684503722
\u201c@WestHam They will sell out like chocolate cake and custard in the school canteen.\u201d— West Ham United (@West Ham United) 1684503722
\u201c@WestHam 5000 seats for a European final\ud83d\ude02\u201d— West Ham United (@West Ham United) 1684503722
\u201c@WestHam .@UEFA less than 5k tickets each for two well supported clubs. Joke. Commercially would make sense to get as big a stadium as possible. Good luck Prague!\u201d— West Ham United (@West Ham United) 1684503722
\u201cVery funny that UEFA set up a competition for smaller nations' clubs, then allowed teams from the best leagues to enter but hold the final in stadiums that would be considered too small to host the National League play off final.\u201d— . (@.) 1684511521
In other news, a West Ham fan went viral for holding off an assortment of hooligans at the Irons' last UECL match - against AZ Alkmaar. Known as Knollsy, the supporter handled a bunch of encroaching thugs who sought to gain their way into what is said to be the 'family section' at the stadium.
Let's hope he gets his ticket for the final.
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