CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Final insult for Arsenal fans

Club questions venue and paltry 6k ticket allocation for Europa League clash

17 May, 2019 — By Steve Barnett

The Olympic Stadium in Azerbaijan has a capacity of 68,700, but Arsenal fans have been allocated just 6,000 tickets for the Europa League final on May 29

ARSENAL have questioned Uefa’s decision to stage the Europa League final in Azerbaijan, adding that they are “bitterly disappointed” at their paltry ticket allocation for the showpiece.

The Gunners will go head-to-head against London rivals Chelsea at the Olympic Stadium in Baku on Wednesday, May 29.

Far from being overjoyed by the occasion, however, supporters were left shocked when they discovered that both clubs will receive in the region of 6,000 tickets each for a stadium which has a capacity of 68,700.

An Arsenal statement released yesterday (Thursday) said: “Everyone at Arsenal is delighted to have reached the Uefa Europa League final and we are all very much looking forward to the match against Chelsea.

“However, we are bitterly disappointed by the fact that, due to transport limitations, Uefa can only make a maximum of 6,000 tickets available to Arsenal for a stadium with a capacity of well over 60,000. Time will tell if it is even possible for 6,000 Arsenal fans to attend the match, given how extreme the travel challenges are.

“We have 45,000 season-ticket holders and for so many fans to miss out due to Uefa selecting a final venue with such limited transport provision is quite simply not right. The reality is that whoever reached the final would not be able to meet demand from their supporters.”

Getting to Baku is proving a major issue for those fans lucky enough to have qualified for a match ticket. Arsenal’s Emirates ­Stadium and Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge ground are just seven miles apart, but now fans are getting ready to embark on a 5,000-mile round-trip to watch the capital clash.

There are only three scheduled flights per week between London and Baku – all of which quickly sold out – while other non-direct flights can take more than 10 hours. The estimated driving time is two-and-a-half days – upwards of 55 hour – while a train journey could last as long as four days.

Calling for greater transparency, the Arsenal statement added: “We have received many complaints from our fans about this and we fully share their concerns. On behalf of our fans, we would like to understand the criteria by which venues are selected for finals, and also how supporter requirements are taken into account as part of this. Moving forward we would urge Uefa to ensure that supporter logistics and requirements are a key part of any future decisions for final venues, as what has happened this season is unacceptable, and cannot be repeated. We would be happy to join any future discussions to avoid this situation happening again.”

Going to Baku?

ARE you Baku-bound? Are you one of the lucky ones who has got a ticket to the final? If so, get in touch and tell us all about the nightmare journey you have to look forward to. Trains, planes, automobiles, or even one of those scooters that adults shouldn’t be using… tell us all about your pending Azerbaijan adventure. Email: sports@islingtontribune.com

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