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Madrid or bust! Spurs fans forced to take unusual routes to Champions League final

Tottenham supporters were hit with massive price hikes on flights to Spain

23 May, 2019 — By Dan Carrier

TOTTENHAM Hotspur have had a rollercoaster ride to the Champions League final, but their gut-busting efforts on the pitch are now being matched by supporters desperate to get to Spain for the biggest match in club football.

Airline price algor­ithms have seen flights to Madrid which normally cost £200 soaring beyond £1,000 as thousands of supporters from north London have searched for travel options. The intense demand is compounded by Spurs’ opponents – Liverpool – also flying from England, with their fans getting a head start on bookings, having won their semi-final a day earlier.

Determined not to miss out, the New Journal has now learned of the curious routes Spurs fans are taking to the Spanish capital for the June 1 final.

Events manager Tre Sutherland, who has followed the team over land and sea for years, said: “I found the whole thing stressful. There was the ‘If I do get a match ticket, how do I get out there without remortgaging my house?’ scenario. I was at a gig the night before my sales window opened for a match ticket. I spent the whole gig sat at the back looking at flights on my phone. I may as well have been at home.”

She added: “After a hell of a lot of hours researching every transport known to man, and every possible city to fly from and to, I’m flying on Thursday and returning at 6am on Monday morning. My flights aren’t direct. There are four flights in total with four different airlines. I have two, four-hour stopovers at changeover airports in Ibiza and Majorca. They are self transfers so the beaches await if time allows. In the end it all worked out grand.”

Lisa Paulon, who works in Camden Town, is another fan facing an indirect route. “I couldn’t afford the flights, or to stay for a second night, so I am flying to Barcelona,” she said, adding that from there she will head down the coast to the resort of Sitges, and then a three-hour train journey to Madrid.

She added: “One of our group is getting to Madrid via Casablanca, so it shows the lengths we’ll go to.”

The scramble for affordable travel follows frustration at the number of match tickets made available to fans of the two clubs: each team was allowed 17,000, but the match is being played at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, which has a much larger capacity of around 63,000 seats. Corporate sponsors and special invitees will fill the rest of the ground.

The magnificent Atletico Madrid stadium where Spurs play Liverpool next week

As Spurs fans began collecting tickets at the box office at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Tuesday, desperate supporters and ‘scalpers’ were seen in the street making offers of up to £3,000 per ticket. Three fans have already been banned for illegal resales.

The New Journal will be providing in-depth coverage of the match next Saturday, but like the supporters we face going the long way round.

Our route from Camden to Madrid will take in Munich and Valencia on the way out, returning via Frankfurt. One of the major airlines, Easyjet, has defended the way prices leap up for football fans trying to follow their heroes abroad.

“The whole pricing picture is very dynamic,” its chief executive Johan Lundgren said. “This is how the system reacts. I can understand if people think that prices are high on this occasion, because it is higher than the average. But there’s no doubt that this was an occasion where the prices went very high because the demand was enormous.”

Meanwhile, Arsenal have officially complained to UEFA – football’s governing body in Europe – over the choice of Baku to host next week’s Europa League final against Chelsea. Only around 5,000 Gunners fans are expected to be in the stadium, with supporters facing stopovers in Moscow or Istanbul in their bids to reach Azerbaijan.

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