Two Wandsworth twins will charter a flight along with more than 70 friends to travel to the Europa League final between Arsenal and Chelsea in Azerbaijan on Wednesday.
Having been priced out of conventional ways to get to Azerbaijan Arsenal fans Freddie and Jamie Villiers 21, from Wandsworth are two of the few who have been able to find a way to Baku without causing financial disarray and 20-hour stop overs in Istanbul.
On Tuesday afternoon the pair will be part of the 75-strong group of friends travelling on the flight leaving from Stanstead to watch the game, travelling 2,883 miles despite the clubs being separated by just six.
Jamie Villiers said: “Before the second leg of the semi when it looked likely Arsenal and Chelsea would be in the final, a friend booked a chartered flight leaving Tuesday afternoon and coming back four hours after the game, it’s was a lot of money but not ridiculous money.
“I think it’s a joke the whole Baku stuff, I go to Arsenal with the same people since I was young, a lot of them are my Dads friends and not everyone can go.”
In response to fans’ backlash, UEFA have been defending their decision to host the final in Baku and said: “It is fair not only to give fans the possibility of a unique live experience, but also to stage events which boost the promotion of football in an entire region.”
When deciding to hold the game in Baku, UEFA did not know who would be in the final and the extent of the problems travelling from London would pose.
The difficulties caused by the choice of location for those wanting to attend the match has done something only a Spurs loss can do, which is unite Arsenal and Chelsea fans in a shared opinion.
Although much of the blame has been placed on UEFA’s door step, both clubs have confessed that they are struggling to sell all the 6,000 tickets allocated to them and both clubs have done little in the way of helping their fans make the trip.
The official ‘package deal’ made between Thomas Cook and the pair of London clubs costs just short of £1,000 and the clubs have not subsidised any of the travel options available for fans.
Despite being two of the lucky ones who have managed to negotiate a cheaper and more convenient option, Jamie and Freddie Villiers have spoken of their disbelief at the entire organisation of one of football’s biggest showpiece events, recounting situations of some of those who simply can not afford to get there.
They said: “I was speaking to a friend and he hasn’t missed a final since the old Wembley, he’s been in Paris for the Champions League final and all the finals at the Millennium Stadium when Wembley was being built, the last Cup Winners Cup, he’s been to them all but he can’t go to this because of price.”
The controversy of Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s absence from the squad due to political tension between Armenia and Azerbaijan, means the significance of those who won’t be in Baku on Wednesday night is as important as those who will be.
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