UEFA offers to help Arsenal with Baku travel options

By Matt Dorman 17 May 2019 356
UEFA offers to help Arsenal with Baku travel options

UEFA has defended its "fair and transparent bidding process" for the Europa League final and is working to find cheaper options for Arsenal and Chelsea fans travelling to Baku.

The build-up to the May 29 encounter has been mired in logistical and financial challenges for supporters hoping to reach the Azerbaijani capital.

The Premier League heavyweights have been allocated no more than 6,000 tickets each, a small fraction of the 68,700-capacity Olympic Stadium and a number ridiculed by supporter groups of both sides.

UEFA's move to alleviate the stress on local airports led a "bitterly disappointed" Arsenal to brand the awarding of hosting rights to a venue with "such limited transport provision" as "quite simply not right".

Baku was selected ahead of Seville and Istanbul in September 2017.

In a letter to the Gunners, UEFA said: "It goes without saying that an all-English final played by two London teams was not a very predictable event at the time of the appointment.

"There is little doubt that this has added significant difficulties to the event logistics.

"We are really sorry for the problems that your (and Chelsea's) fans are encountering trying to organise their journey to Baku.

"Our experts are keenly working on this matter with a view to helping find cheaper solutions for travelling fans.

"We would welcome a joint effort with your club in this respect."

While confirming its readiness to work with Arsenal, UEFA further argued that showpiece contests such as the Europa League final should not be confined to countries with high-performing clubs.

"That's why UEFA would consider [it] utterly unfair to exclude certain venues just based on their decentralised geographical position," the governing body added.

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