Flying into Liverpool John Lennon Airport at 11.00pm on the night of the Champions League Final was a sad occasion. The souvenir stall was trying to sell Champions League souvenirs for half price and in 4 hours the first of over 100 charter jets back from Athens were about to land their tired, pissed off and bemused fans pouring out into the still night in front of the Yellow Submarine outside the entrance and signs saying IMAGINE.
I had come from Oslo and only seen the first few minutes on a passenger's laptop in the airport lounge and the pilot relayed the final score to us RYAN AIR passengers while in flight across the North Sea. There was a lot to be pissed off at. $1,5000 flights (10 times the normal), overpriced hotel rooms, and only 17,000 tickets for Liverpool fans with lots going to sponsors,politicians,Harry Kewell's advisers and doctors and many hundreds of fake tickets out there for the unwary. What would you expect when 2 hours prior to kick off you were offered 100 Euro tickets for only 200 Euro?. About 60 fans were arrested with fakes, and some arrested for stealing 45 VIP tickets from a UEFA staff hotel room 2 days before and one guy arrested for selling 50 forged tickets to a local travel agent for 58,000 Euros.
Many REAL fans with REAL tickets who didn't come early enough were prevented from entering the Olympic Stadium after UEFA declared the stadium was full, with far too may fake tickets knowingly used for entry, and 150 fans left stranded at John Lennon due to a mechanical failure. Each ticket has a hologram which the fake ones didn't and some 'fans' got as far as the third ring of security before rushing the temporary barriers or stealing from the hands of fans showing their tickets to security people. Steps between sections were evidently jammed with people and opposing fans mixed together. Many years ago I witnessed Liverpool fans who had spent there money on booze and not intent on paying rush the gates in Bruges, Belgium and even at old Wembley. Everton and Liverpool fans used to jump over the turnstiles at both Anfield and Goodison Park in the old days.
William Galliard the UEFA spokesman said it was Liverpool's fault for not giving enough of their allocation to the real fans and lots of sponsor getting in. 17,000 more tickets had been put on the official UEFA web site months ago and given out via a lottery system, and those were mostly taken by touts and local taxi drivers whose only concern was to fleece the real fans. I have suggested before that ALL Champions League Finals should be played at Stade de France in Paris, which would be neutral since French clubs suck and won't be in the final(not since Real Madrid vs Reims in the first final) and Paris easy to get to from England, Spain and Italy and Germany.
All those Sponsors and VIPs should be invited instead to the Swiss Cup Final in Bern with a half time show of Swiss horns and flag twirling followed by chocolate dipping and the night before a pilgimage to Sepp Blatter's home in the least tax heavy canton of Switzerland for fondue and raclette. Racclette is from the French 'racler', to scrape. You scrape melted cheese over boiled potatoes with lots of ground pepper, small pickled onions and gherkins.
The following year invite them to the Leichtenstein Cup Final in Vaduz, with a tour of the philately museum. After that they probably won't ask for any more Big Game tickets. UEFA's spanking new headquarters are in NYON near Geneva(hence my play on words)but most employees are lightweights and wouldn't a have a clue about the passion of fans in Liverpool, Manchester, Milan, Munich, Barcelona, Madrid.
Filippo Inzaghi score both goals for the Rossoneri (red and black), with Dirk Kuyt's last minute goal not enough. So, 2-1 and Milan AC win their 7th Cup, Liverpool have 5, Real Madrid 9, Ajax and Barcelona 4 apiece. Here is a quiz for you all. Name the ONLY 4 capital cities in Europe that have produced a European Cup or Champions League winner, and name them cronologically!!
'Will swop girl friend for ticket' was one card displayed by a Liverpool fan. 'My missus says five times isn't enough', proclaimed another, and KOP COMES ACROPOLIS was one newspaper headline today. 'There may be many Greek gods but there is only one Robbie Fowler'. 'History will be kind, for I intend to write it' proclaimed a philosophical fan.
Well, Robbie is a rich property millionaire on Merseyside and Rafael Benitez won't be renewing his contract at his age. Surely Harry Kewell, maybe even Peter Crouch will be put out to stud to the Australian A League as Tom Hicks and George Gillett the new owners provide money for vital strikers to challenge Manchester United and Chelsea. What UEFA will do to help out fans is a good question, but don't expect the blazers, the beer salesmen, and the rest to give up their seats without a fight.