REUTERS - While Manchester City's wealthy Dubai owners continue to bankroll the club, the Premier League champions' supporters look to be adopting a more frugal approach.
According to local media reports, City have sent back 912 of the 3,000 tickets they were allocated for Sunday's league clash at Arsenal, with travelling fans unhappy at the 62 pounds cost for a seat at the Emirates.
"It's the most expensive amount I can ever remember paying for a ticket in my life," Kevin Parker, the general secretary of the Manchester City Supporters Club, was quoted as saying by British media on Tuesday.
"It just shows that football clubs are out of touch with reality. If City supporters are travelling on a supporters' club coach it will cost 30 pounds per person. That's 92 pounds before they have even done anything. Add in a programme, food, drink and you are looking at 125-130 pounds per person."
Widely regarded as one of the richest clubs in the world after they were bought by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan in 2008, they have forked out millions to sign the likes of Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Mario Balotelli in recent seasons.
Despite the massive outlay, the most expensive ticket prices at the Etihad Stadium are 58 pounds with the cheapest at 26 pounds, according to an October survey by the BBC.
Arsenal sold the Premier League's most expensive match day ticket at 126 pounds and, like City, also one of the cheapest available at 26 pounds.
"Some people cannot afford the price, especially as it is just after Christmas, and there are some who just refuse to pay 62 pounds," Parker said of the Arsenal cost.
"This is also the first time in a long while that I remember City fans saying to me they could pay the money but are refusing to do so.
"That is a brave decision to take. Soon, though, fans will vote more strongly with their feet and clubs like Arsenal will have to decide what to do about ticket prices."
The depleted attendance for Sunday's match will be a rarity for City, who often attracted over 30,000 fans to their old stadium, Maine Road, for matches in the English third tier 14 years ago.
(Reporting by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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