A wealthy Auckland businessman is paying thousands of dollars to see his dream game - but will still be sleeping a night in carpark for his trouble.

You might have heard stories about scalping and profiteering ahead of the Champions League final in Madrid on June 1, which will see Spurs square off against Liverpool for the UEFA Cup after one of the most exciting competitions in living memory.

The experience of Auckland-based Tottenham fan Michael Blackman's indicates they're all true - and more.

The Circle IT owner was able to secure a ticket to the final through a resale site for €2500 ($4300).


He thought it was pretty good given a friend had to pay a scalper €5000 ($8600), and fan blogs and podcasts have put the price at around €3000 (resold tickets were always going to be pricey but the fact 30,000 of the 68,000 seats at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium have been allocated to sponsors and corporate hospitality has ramped things up a notch).

But then the fun began with accommodation.

At first, Blackman thought he'd been clever. The minute Spurs won their semi-final against Manchester City, he jumped on Airbnb and paid €230 a night to book a bedroom for three days.

But as the hype started to build for the final, "The owners contacted me saying, 'Sorry we've cancelled your booking and it's now €2000 a night."

He wasn't happy, but says the fine print of his accommodating sharing arrangement let the hosts cancel up to a week out. Podcasts and blogs indicate such last-minute cancelations and profiteering have been commonplace.

Roughing it

Blackman then looked at Plan B: hiring a motorhome - only to find prices had been jacked up to €1000 a night with a three-night minimum.

That reduced him to Plan C - hiring a Renault Espace people mover in Valencia, three hours from Madrid, for a relatively modest €300 for two nights.

He has scoped out a local leisure centre and plans to sleep in its car park in the back of his rental car, then pay €10 a day to use the centre's changing rooms for bathroom breaks.


"I can't believe I'm doing this as a 45-year-old man," says company owner Blackman, who describes himself as 195cm to all (6 foot five) and 130kg.

In Madrid he plans to meet up with another travelling Kiwi - Liverpool fan John Horsfall - who also had an Airbnb that fell through, and who has copied Blackman's idea of hiring an Espace.

Georginio Wijnaldum, center, celebrates scoring his side's third goal during Liverpool's comeback semi-final win over Barcelona. Photo / AP.
Georginio Wijnaldum, center, celebrates scoring his side's third goal during Liverpool's comeback semi-final win over Barcelona. Photo / AP.

"We've done our research. We chose the Espace because the seats turn around," Blackman says, optimistically.

Air tickets have also been inflated. After the final ends, Blackman will have just hours to drive back to Valencia then cost a flight to London that will set him back $1000, or around four times the usual price.

Bucket list event

Blackman hopes the sore back will be worth it.

"This is a bucket list event. There would be nothing that would give me pleasure than Liverpool coming away with nothing," he says.

The Herald will leave him to explain that quip to Horsfall.

The price of comfort? $17,100

While Blackman will freedom camp in a carpark, others are splashing out for a more comfortable experience.

Blackman, who chairs the official local supporters club The Kiwi Spurs, says one of its members has paid $17,100 for a travel package that includes a category one ticket to the final and three nights' accommodation in an actual bed.

Other Spurs fans are circling

ANZ corporate communications chief Peter Parussini says he's willing to pay up to $4000 per ticket on the resale market to watch his team - Tottenham - in the final in Madrid.

And he wouldn't be travelling alone. "I've said to my son who I've managed to brainwash into being a Tottenham supporter that I'll shout him a ticket as well," Parussini says.

Parussini says it's worth it because "I haven't seen Spurs win anything in my lifetime and they might not again."

The Herald suspects the Spurs superfan will snap and pay the $6000 per ticket regardless.

Meanwhile in the cheap seats

The Uefa Cup final isn't the only show in town - or at least on the continent.

May 29 will see the final for the second-tier Europa Cup played in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The match will also be an all-England affair, with Chelsea taking on Arsenal.

But in this case, the lower prestige of the competition and the far-flung location has seen less interest.

Auckland lawyer and Arsenal supporter Jeremy Ansell says he's been able to secure a flight via Brisbane and Abu Dhabi for $1800, a hotel room for a week for $300 and a ticket via Uefa's official ballot for $82.

Ansell says he's lucky his number came up in the ballot.

With the Baku Olympic stadium seating close to 70,000 - but only 6000 tickets made available to Arsenal fans - he's expecting scalpers to have a field day.

[UPDATE: Shortly after this article was published, Michael Blackman got in touch with the Herald to say, "A fellow Spurs fan who runs a business here in Auckland contacted me out of the blue and explained he had an Airbnb 6km from the ground in Madrid and he would let me sleep on the couch at that place."]