The Chelsea Supporters Trust analysed the ticketing information (for both this game and their two other CL group games) on the Schalke website. The facts are these :-
· Schalke are charging higher prices (for all categories) for the Chelsea game than for their ties against Basel (52 Euros for away section) or Steaua (38 Euros), which they are fully entitled to do under current UEFA regulations.
· The Chelsea section is classified as Category 2 in a five category pricing structure. On examination of the categories on the Veltins Arena stadium map this seems correct in terms of classification, although whether an away section corner seat justifies being rated category 2 out of 5 is, at the very least, arguable.
· Schalke are giving a 5 Euro discount to their members for Category 2 (a discount rising to 10 Euros for categories 3 and 4). Given that all Chelsea supporters attending the game will be members or season ticket holders, it is at least arguable whether they should attract the same 5 Euro discount – for Schalke to not offer it feels discriminatory unless Chelsea have an agreement in place with them (as per UEFA Safety & Security Regulations 2006 Article 19.3).
The CST raised these points with Chelsea, as an aside pointing out the irony that a leading German football club, from a league held up as a role model in terms of cheap pricing structure, charges 40% more to Chelsea fans for away tickets than we charge their supporters to enter Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea replied saying they were in dialogue with Schalke on the matter and would update the club website should there be any changes. Accepting there is may be only so much Chelsea can do on the issue we decided to try and investigate directly. After representation from the CST, Supporters Direct looked into the issue. Handily, an SD member, Stuart Dykes, is a Schalke supporter with good contacts at, and understanding of, the club.
He looked into the matter and gave the following response (repeated in full), which may not give the answer Chelsea supporters want but at least gives some further clarification :-
“The tickets are priced the same as the sections immediately to the left and right of the away section (category 2), with the exception that Schalke fans in those sections who are both members of club and season-ticket holders pay a couple of Euros less. Schalke fans who do not meet these criteria are charged the same as away fans. These are the sections to be drawn on for comparison purposes, not the cheaper seats in the North Stand. This has been approved by UEFA.
At European games the seats in the North Stand are occupied entirely by fans who have a standing season ticket (category 5). This will be the reason why their tickets are less expensive than those for Schalke fans (and away fans) at the other end of the ground.
You could argue, I suppose, that tickets for seats in the away section that would normally be within the away standing area should also be cheaper, but I suspect this has been tried and rejected before.”
Hopefully Chelsea will get somewhere in terms of the 5 Euro members differential, but if Schalke do not give a positive response to this, it is likely we will work with Supporters Direct and other club trusts on a joint representation to UEFA to try and address this anomaly for future seasons.
The CST sees investigating and challenging such issues as a core activity and are happy to take up such matters with clubs, UEFA and other stakeholders as and when appropriate. We feel it is to Chelsea’s credit that they do not apply discriminatory pricing to Champions League group games (all tickets are £35 for both home and away supporters for all three games) but, as things stand, there is nothing to prevent other clubs differentiating as Schalke have done.