Almost 1000 Liverpool fans to miss out on Champions League final as mayor admits defeat in resolving 'utter shambles'
Liverpool fans whose flights to watch their side in the Champions League final in Ukraine were cancelled face bitter disappointment after the city's mayor said he had been unable to resolve the "utter shambles" in time.
Almost 1,000 supporters face missing the game of a lifetime after operator Worldchoice Sports cancelled three flights because it did not have sufficient landing slots at Boryspil Airport.
Joe Anderson said he was working with Kiev's mayor - former boxer Vitali Klitschko - and airlines to find a solution for all those who face missing out, but sent an update on Wednesday afternoon saying he was "gutted" he was unable to find a solution.
He wrote on Twitter: "Hugely disappointed that our efforts to sort #LFC fan flights has not worked @Vitaliy_Klychko & airport directors did all possible with landing slots and planes but not able to get over the line. Frustrated by utter shambles faced by loyal fans."
"The company has said it can't resolve it, we have to respect that. Gutted we got so close," he added.
He posted several messages on Twitter on Thursday and Friday promising he was trying to find a solution to the fiasco by sourcing a carrier to provide flights from John Lennon airport.
Around midday on Friday he tweeted a video of himself promising that he and his team were working to find an airline with a spare aircraft.
But at 4pm he was forced to admit that a plan he had hatched with Klitschko looked domed to failure.
He said: "No final decision yet but really not looking good - unable to resolve flight situation. With support of @Vitaliy_Klychko, #Kievairport & carrier we had plane & landing slot but crew were coming from the USA and crew rest time a huge barrier. Time against us."
Previously he said his office was in talks with a carrier that could possibly lay on two or three flights from Liverpool to Kiev on Saturday, arriving in the early evening.
He said: "The mayor [of Kiev] has said he will lay on transport to take people to the grounds which is about 40 minutes away."
Mr Anderson finished: "That's what I'm hoping. I can't confirm or promise anything 100%."
Liverpool announced on Friday afternoon that anyone who bought match tickets direct from the club who was due to be on one of the cancelled flights would be able to claim a refund.
Worldchoice Sports said due to so many flights heading to Ukraine ahead of Liverpool's meeting with Real Madrid, Boryspil Airport had been unable to allocate times for the three planes.
In a statement tweeted on Friday, it said it had been able to utilise one of the slots it had booked but it would have been on a different date and for three nights instead of one night.
"With no accommodation in Kiev being available it was decided that in such a short space of time it would not be possible to utilise this slot and risk the safety of our customers."
It added: "We can't apologise to our customers enough about the situation they find themselves in.
"We feel terribly let down by Kiev airport and can assure all customers affected will be getting a full refund over the next seven days."
Disappointed fans took to Twitter to express their disgust at the lack of information they had received.
Leah Robinson posted: "Arranging & selling overpriced flights before any guarantee that you could fly into kiev in the first place. Scum bags!"
Kevin Frewen wrote: "Really poor, find another airport, subsidise them, make another option viable. The lengths fans have gone to and the cost is beyond what should be expected. There has to be another way to get those fans over."
Financial adviser Jason McGimpsey, 43, was looking forward to the trip of a lifetime but was told on Thursday his flight was cancelled.
He told the Press Association: "Worldchoice Sports had been stalling on giving us e-tickets and exact departure times and it's become clear why that was the case, now finally they've said 'we've cancelled it'."
He continued: "I've been offered a refund but it doesn't go anywhere near compensating me for what I've lost.
"For various personal reasons I was unable to go to the finals in Istanbul or Athens. I go to practically all Liverpool games and I haven't missed a home game in nearly four years.
"This was the biggest game of my life."
He added: "Since then we've heard nothing. Games like this come along every 10 years if you're lucky, I should be excited and instead I'm just gutted."