2468 Miles, 7 Countries, 57 Hours: Chelsea And Arsenal Fans Set For Epic Adventure To Baku For Europa League Final
Chelsea and Arsenal will meet in the Europa League final in what is surely the most bizarre London derby we have ever seen.
The clubs, situated just eight miles apart in the English capital, will travel almost 3000 miles to Azerbaijan’s capital Baku in what is sure to be an expensive and time-consuming venture for all of their supporters.
Azerbaijan borders Iran, Armenia and Russia and is actually further east than Syria, Iraq and Israel. Discounting the farthest reaches of Russia, UEFA almost could not have chosen a location further away from the United Kingdom and the rest of western Europe. Fans will have to travel through four time zones to reach the final and dig deep into their wallets to make it to this European final.
Plane tickets have already gone through the roof and been snapped up with the cheapest flight now costing £500. However, there is a slight drawback to these ‘cheaper’ tickets. A flight for that sort of price will now take you 24 hours, and involve two changes, firstly in Katowice, Poland and then Kiev, Ukraine.
A direct flight takes just under six hours but a ticket for one of those is now like gold dust, given that there is just one of these and it takes off a week before the final. So flying looks to be out of the question, but what about travelling by land?
Public transport is a possibility but would involve an epic adventure that would take four and a half days and seven countries! The trip would start with relative ease, hopping on the Eurostar to Brussels before a five-hour train to Frankfurt. From there you would get on some sort of European Megabus for 12 hours to the Polish city of Przemyśl Główny.
Your 12 hour bus ride is followed up by an overnight 16-hour stint on the Kiev passenger train which crawls the 647km and gets you to the Ukrainian capital. Kiev to Kharkiv is the next leg at just under five hours by train which seems like a jaunt when you look at the final leg.
One way to get from Kharkiv to Baku is a mammoth bus journey that takes two days and four hours and covers a distance of almost 2,000 km. If you survive that monstrosity then you will have made it to your final destination, just in time to watch a game that we get to see at least twice every season in the Premier League.
Of course, you could save yourself all of that hassle by driving! Just the 57-hour cruise through mainland Europe after hopping over the channel on the ferry. Baku’s Olympic Stadium holds almost 70,000 fans yet given the remote location, UEFA have only given each club 6,000 tickets for the final - a record low.
You have to give credit to each and every one of those 12,000 English fans taking on this epic adventure and making their way to Azerbaijan at the end of May. Now that is loyal support.