Madrid Champions League rush: fans slam price rises

MADRID (Reuters) - Soaring demand for a place to sleep in Madrid over the weekend of the Champions League final between two English clubs has sent prices rocketing to levels some fans say are so high authorities should step in.

Soccer Football - Champions League - Liverpool v Napoli Preview - Liverpool, Britain - December 10, 2018 General view of a Champions League logo on a umbrella Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine

Prices listed have jumped for simple bunk beds in hostels as well as luxury suites as Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur face off on June 1 in the Champion’s League, with the first all-England final in more than a decade prompting a stampede of fan demand.

“It is time to stop cashing in on fan loyalty. We’re calling for consumer protection measures to halt prices being forced up exponentially, and to stop the practice of repricing existing deals,” Joe Blott, chairman of the Spirit of Shankly unofficial Liverpool fan club.

At one end of the spectrum, the five-star hotel VP Plaza Espana is offering a presidential suite with butler service and use of a fleet of luxury cars for 30,000 euros, more than 10 times the price for the room alone. It includes VIP access to the stadium.

“There are certain periods in the year in Madrid that prices rise significantly because there is a lot of demand, and this is one of those moments,” said the hotel’s marketing manager Laura Granados.

Many fans understood that high demand and limited supply would mean hiked bed costs, said Katrina Law from the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust, but she also called for some consumer rights protection.

“Football fans are being exploited,” Law said.

Booking websites, and even some hostel websites, showed prices going up to hundreds of euros for a simple bunk bed.

But some of the price hikes were due to booking systems collapsing due to huge demand, said Manuel Rodriguez, the manager of the Open Hostel Madrid near the central Plaza del Rey.

Travel website, and the hostel’s own website, listed a single bunk bed in a four-bed female dormitory room at that hostel for 500 euros (441.3 pounds), a Reuters reporter saw.

But Rodriguez said the hostel did not rent rooms for more than 60 euros, and the inflated price was aimed at fixing a glitch, not at actually selling at that price.

“Sometimes when there is huge demand, travel websites overbook and the system gets blocked. To resolve the situation we raise the price to 500 euros - it could even be 1,000 euros - in order precisely not to rent it out, to solve the situation with the travel websites and to reopen at a normal price,” Rodriguez said.

Reported by Elena Rodríguez; additional reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Paul Day; Editing by Alison Williams