Posted: 5/1/2008


         Chelsea vs Manchester United at the LUZHINIKI Stadium, Moscow on 20th May, less than three weeks away. FANS, why not save your hard earned money and stay away and don't take up the 21,000 tickets allocated for each finalist.  Formerly Lenin Stadium it has 85,00 seats but lacks the latest ticket scanning technology.

        After you have applied for and paid $200.00 for a Russian visa you have to get your hands on a ticket, purchase an air fare and find somewhere to sleep in the most expensive capital in Europe. Michel Platini can afford it, Roman Abrahmovitch can afford it, The Glazers will probably fly in on another private jet, but the fans are going to get screwed-yet again -by those who profess to have the fans best interest in their hearts. WELL, I think the only soft hearts in Switzerland are made of Swiss chocolate!.

     It was a former Prince of Wales who was persuaded to go to one of those minor British seaside resorts, Bognor Regis. Well, they don't even have a decent soccer club!! He cut his stay short and said "BUGGER BOGNOR, I am not going back there again".  He later became King George V and was seriously ill in his bed at Sandringham Palace. "Your Majesty, you will soon be well enough to visit Bognor" he was told by the royal physician.   "Bugger Bognor"' he said once more,(for the last time) and promptly died.  Well, I have only once been to Moscow to catch the Trans-Siberian Express and that was way before it was open and was very much the capital of the Soviet Union. I tried to navigate my way to the YARASLAVSKY station for my trip on train No. 002-ROSIYA, the train name that afternoon,and the one way ticket through Siberia. All the beautiful metro stations have signs in cyrillic, and I went to the wrong station, but finally figured it out correctly in plenty of time.

       Air fares are going for about $1,500.00 Round trip from UK-London, Manchester to Moscow IF you can find any space left.  I managed to find a round trip on Turkish Airlines from Istanbul to Moscow for about $450.00 and I am sure that fans of the Reds and the Blues will be looking into other ways.  Eurostar to Paris then by train via Warsaw and a sleeper is one way to go, about $700.00 and you can sleep there and back. The official fan packages via the two clubs are at least  $2,000.00 without a visa, and return the same day.  There are fairly decent fares to Istanbul,from UK, but what a botch of a simple task have UEFA and its gnomes in their fortress at Nyon made of it.

     I was once in the UEFA headquarters hotel in downtown Stuttgart, West Germany, prior to one of the most boring European Cup Finals in history, PSV Eindhoven vs Benfica 0-0 and found my way up to the inner sanctum, as I often do, and poured myself a cup of tea. "What is your function?" asked an ERMO (easily replaceable minor official) probably just out of the University of Bern.  "My function is to love the beautiful game" I responded. "If I give you a DM (deutchsmark) can you run along and find me some sugar sweetener, young man?" Chop! Chop!   WELL,you have to treat them with disdain, don't you? In December that year I also went to the World Club Championship Final in Tokyo's Olympic Stadium,; PSV vs Club Nacional of Uruguay and that was also settled by penalties after a boring draw.

     UEFA  MUST review their policy of playing these finals in difficult and expensive places to play, such as Moscow, Athens and Istanbul.  I am pleased in one way that Liverpool FC won't be there. Most of their fans could better spend the money taking their familes on a well needed vacation, buying toys for them, or spending their time trying to oust Tom Hicks.

     If all the finals were played at Stade de France in Paris, with its three airports, five rail stations, accessible roads and plenty of accommodation in the city, and in other French cities within an hour or so of the capital, we could give the fans a cheaper day out. Only Germany, England, Italy and Spain are likely to have finalists and they can go, watch, and return home in one day, and NO VISAS.  I watched on the TV news tonight as a former Liverpool player Jan Molby went to the Russian Consulate, paid his $200.00 and got one in 8 minutes. Well Jan, you only wasted #200.00 this time!!!