The cost of Champions League travel

by Business Travel iQ | 09 May 2019

As Liverpool and Spurs edge their semi-finals, we take a look at some of the business travel implications

Business travel is often a very last-minute affair. A client calls and demands an urgent meeting. Something newsworthy happens and a broadcaster must be sent immediately. That sort of thing.

This week has brought another kind of relatively last-minute business travel into focus – the world of knock-out competition football.

Football fans in Britain – even the neutrals – have had a nerve-wracking week. On Tuesday, Liverpool overturned a 3-0 aggregate against Barcelona to emerge as 4-3 winners of their Champions League semi-final. If that were not enough of a fairy tale comeback, Tottenham Hotspur topped it on Wednesday by going down by two goals in the first half only for Lucas Moura to score a hat-trick and win them their semi-final against Ajax.

Organising business travel in the world of football is its own nerve-wracking affair. The person at Spurs with responsibility for team travel will have been wondering whether they needed to get working on booking flights and hotels in Madrid for the final on June 1st

The organisation that puts on the Champions League spends a lot on travel. Our chart this week looks at how that has changed over recent years.

Source: UEFA annual financial reports

The figures shown cover overall expenses for airline tickets, hotel accommodation and daily allowances for UEFA officials and staff. The figures do not cover travel for referees and other match officials – UEFA spends around €18 million every year on their expenses including entitlements, travel, accommodation and daily allowances.

The first thing that strikes you about the chart is the spike in 2015/16. UEFA works on a four-year cycle that begins with the quadrennial Euro championships, when travel costs more than double.

UEFA are not the only ones travelling.

Andy Christie, private jets director at Air Charter Service, says: “Since the drama of [the Liverpool match on Tuesday] we have had so many requests for private jets from individuals as well as from specialist tour operators for much larger groups.”

For last year’s final, the company carried more than 1,000 fans to Kiev and had planned for more this year.

So now that two English teams are in the final what about UK corporates who want to plan a spot of hospitality in Madrid?

Liverpool and Spurs are both getting ticket allocations of 16,613 each at Atletico Madrid’s 67,830- capacity stadium, leaving plenty – in theory - for corporates to fill.

However, that may not be possible.

“Flights for VIPs and corporates were booked up some time ago,” says Christie.

The company also says that now that Spurs have booked their place in the final, “There is now no parking left at Madrid, and slots are running out. We are looking into alternative airports for private jets and also larger aircraft.”

It will be a pricy affair too. According to the company, chartering a private jet for the day would cost around £2,000 per person.

Still that may still be reasonable value – rooms in Madrid for the final night are costing upwards of £600. And that’s without the cost of securing matchday tickets.

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