Arsenal and Chelsea fans face long, expensive trip to Baku
Supporters of Arsenal and Chelsea face an epic journey to watch their sides in the Europa League final.
Only seven miles separates the London teams’ stadiums, but their fans must embark on a 2,500-mile trip to attend the game in Baku on May 29.
There are only three scheduled flights per week between London and the Azerbaijan capital, but all seats are sold out in the days before and after the match.
Many fans are booking circuitous routes, with trips involving a change of plane at destinations such as Bahrain, Istanbul, Doha available for around £1,300.
Many of these flights last more than 10 hours.
Thomas Cook Sport is offering non-stop charter flights for £979 to supporters who have bought a match ticket.
The trip does not include accommodation, and involves departing from a London airport on the morning of the game and flying home at around 8.30am the following day.
Anyone contemplating driving to the game must be prepared for a long journey.
The most direct trip involves an area of eastern Ukraine which the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all travel due to ongoing clashes between Ukrainian armed forces and Russian-backed armed separatists.
An alternative route via Istanbul takes 56 hours from Calais in northern France after crossing the Channel by ferry or train.
Arsenal and Chelsea supporters have also expressed frustration that the clubs will only receive approximately 6,000 tickets each despite the Olympic Stadium having a capacity of around 64,000.
Football governing body Uefa announced in February that 37,500 tickets for the final would go on sale to the general public worldwide. It is understood that the size of this figure is to prevent an empty stadium.
Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) wrote on Twitter: “Really terrible ticketing and travel arrangements for Arsenal fans for the Europa League final.
“AST meeting with the other supporter Trusts also in European finals on Tuesday to discuss how more pressure can be brought to bear on Uefa for fairer treatment for fans.
A Chelsea season ticket holder named Paul posted: “68,000 capacity stadium, 6,000 tickets given to both Chelsea and Arsenal fans. No direct flights from London. Travel only packages for as much as £1,000, cheapest I’ve seen is £970.
“Fans who want to be in Baku by Wednesday will have to leave on Sunday. Football is for the fans!”
Liverpool and Tottenham fans are also being charged sky-high prices to attend the Champions League final, which takes place in Madrid on June 1.
Non-stop scheduled flights from the UK to Madrid have been hiked to more than £1,300 return.
Barely any hotel rooms in the Spanish capital are available for less than £1,000 on the night of the match.
Jurgen Klopp questioned the sense of hosting the Europa League final in Baku and the cost of flights and accommodation.
“These decisions, they must be much more sensible. It just looks irresponsible,” the Liverpool boss said.
“A solution maybe, in the cities who get the final, maybe they have to make a price cut? I heard a room that is normally £100 is now £2,700? Just crazy!
“Madrid is unbelievably expensive but who decides Baku for a European final? Or Kiev? I don’t know what the people who decide these things have for breakfast.”
Liverpool and Tottenham supporters’ groups issued a joint statement which said their joy at watching their teams reach the final has been “tempered by the extortionate costs of travel, accommodation and tickets”.
They are calling for consumer protection to halt travel prices being increased “exponentially”, adding: “It is time to stop cashing in on fan loyalty.”