FC Barcelona were eager to welcome fans back into the Camp Nou, with ticket sales expected to help boost the club's financial situation. However, as restrictions are slowly lifted in Spain, a concerning trend has emerged. Tickets are not being sold out at the allowable capacity for Barcelona's home games.
Surprisingly, fans do not appear to be eager to return to the stands even after a full season of restrictions thanks to the novel coronavirus pandemic. According to a reports from Spanish publication Marca, only 31,213 tickets were requested by fans for the Blaugrana's upcoming UEFA Champions League opener against German giants Bayern Munich.
The ticket quota for the home team is up to 40,000, but fans appear to be willing to pick up way below that number. What's even more concerning is the fact that this is not some obscure League or Cup match against a weak team. This is a Champions League fixture against one of Europe's biggest teams.
Previous La Liga Santander matches were not sold out either, making it an obvious trend that fans are not as keen to watch matches live as they used to be. Of course, many factors may be considered. First, the pandemic is still raging. Despite the vaccination efforts and the reopening of most industries, many fans may still be reluctant to go to large gatherings with safety in mind.
Second, a lot of people were hit financially by the pandemic, and with jobs and income lost, football tickets may have taken a back seat for some. Lastly, the departure of Lionel Messi surely made a massive impact, with a large majority of Barcelona fans being extremely attached to the former captain.
Barcelona successfully slashed their wage bill this season, but that meant letting go of some big names. Now, the consequences are becoming evident, and the board will have a lot to think about in the coming weeks. Nevertheless, all is not lost. If Ronald Koeman and his squad start delivering victories, fans may soon start to regain interest.