Paris Saint-Germain fans have been left frustrated after the club was overwhelmed by around a million requests for tickets for their sell-out Champions League quarter-final with Barcelona.
As soon as the draw for the last eight was made last Friday, fans rushed to the Parc des Princes to secure their place in the near 50,000 crowd for the first leg against the Catalan visitors on April 2.
Amid scenes of utter confusion, hundreds of supporters faced lengthy waits as just ten ticket office windows were opened. It was a similar story throughout Saturday and Monday, with the ticket office closing at midnight on both days, and the game sold out.
"There are 25,000 season ticket-holders who had 5,000 extra places, and 5,000 tickets are reserved by UEFA for Barcelona, so there were only 15,000 places to be sold," Frederic Longuepee, PSG's deputy director general, explained in Le Parisien, which claimed the club's ticketing hotline peaked at 100 calls-a-second.
"We received between 700,000 and one million requests. To meet that scale of demand in such a short timeframe was mission impossible."
Strangely, PSG had asked the general public to claim their tickets before season-ticket holders, meaning a number of loyal fans were complaining that they had missed out, while the club only brought in security guards to manage the crowd on Saturday. Longuepee added that if PSG's ambition of becoming one of Europe's leading sides was to be achieved, such situations would have to be handled better in the future.
"If we want to become a big club, then it's fundamental we look at satisfactorily welcoming our fans, who are also our clients, within personnel and technological limits."
With demand for tickets astronomically high, prices on the black market have followed suit with €20-€30 tickets being sold for €400, according to Le Parisien while L'Equipe claimed some were changing hands for up to €1,000. Longuepee warned disappointed fans against trying to get into the game at all costs as it would not necessarily mean they will get through the turnstiles come matchday.
"The tickets have a number which means we can deactivate them if they've been sold fraudulently. The re-sale of a ticket is a punishable offence. We try to ensure the law is respected. By buying on the black market, you take the chance of getting a counterfeit ticket."