Arsenal and Chelsea facing extraordinary trip for Europa League final as clubs fume over ticket allocation
Arsenal and Chelsea fans face a battle to secure tickets for the Europa League final after it was confirmed the two London clubs will receive just 5,801 tickets for the match in Baku, Azerbaijan on May 29th.
Arsenal confirmed in a statement that they were hugely disappointed by the limited number of tickets being made available to their fans for a match to be played at a stadium with a capacity of around 64,000, as the Gunners prepare for their first European final in 13 years, as they released this statement after their Europa League semi-final win against Valencia on Thursday night.
"As many of you will be aware, we are proud to have approximately 45,000 season ticket holders and over 180,000 official members," it read.
"It is inevitable that with an allocation of just 6,000 tickets for the final, there will be thousands of fans who have supported the club for years and been part of our Europa League journey this season, who will be unable to attend this match.
"We recognise that any process we implement for the sales process of just 6,000 tickets for a major final will leave many fans disappointed. We can only ask that supporters understand the difficult situation we find ourselves in."
UEFA started a general sale of 37,5000 tickets for the game in February, with the stated aim of getting as many locals to attend the match as possible after Baku was selected a somewhat controversial choice for the final.
Now the prospect of fans from two English teams trying to plot a route to Azerbaijan has highlighted the challenge of staging a game in a location that lacks transport links to many of Europe's major cities.
Arsenal and Chelsea fans face a 2,468 mile trip to a venue that is further east than Riyadh in Saudi Arabia or Baghdad in Iraq, and closer to Mumbai in India than it is to London and there are no direct scheduled flights between London and Baku in the week of the final.
There is a direct flight to Baku the Saturday before the game, but that would involve a one week stay in Azerbaijan if that route was followed, with trips via Turkey and Ukraine likely to be considered by Arsenal and Chelsea fans.
It takes four days to travel from London to Baku via train and would take 57 and a half hour if you decide to hop in the car and get to the game via that route.