Manchester City fans party late into the night in Istanbul as supporters are told to ‘get to the ground early’ ahead of ‘nightmare’ journey to Champions League final against Inter
Manchester City fans partied into the early hours ahead of tonight’s big Champions League final against Inter and have been urged by UEFA to ‘get to the ground early’.
Twenty thousand tickets have been sold to City for the match and a similar number have gone to the Italian opposition with the rest of the 72,000 seater stadium made up of locals, ballot winners and delegations.
But what will add to the headache of City fans as they sober up is the ‘nightmare’ journey to the ground outskirts of the sprawling city of Istanbul which is a good 25 miles from the centre where City fans have gathered.
UEFA are keen to avoid a repeat of the chaotic scenes that marred last season’s showcase final between Liverpool and Real Madrid in Paris – where kick off was held up for 37 minutes.
At the time UEFA shamelessly blamed Liverpool fans but in reality it transpired legitimate ticket holders had been funnelled down dangerously cramped bottlenecks – and they were teargassed for their trouble.
Manchester City fans partied until the early hours in Istanbul ahead of tonight’s final
City fans have been warned that they may face a difficult journey to the final in Istanbul
City fans gathered in the City centre – which is roughly 25 miles from where the match will take place
One supporter was seen with a flare as the fans got the festivities going during the evening
Officials later apologised and took the blame for the scenes and as a result have urged fans to ‘get to the ground early’ for the 10pm local time kick off.
A message on the UEFA Champions League final app read:’Istanbul traffic can be extremely busy ! You’re almost guaranteed to need much longer than expected.
‘Use the free shuttle buses or public transport. Avoid taxi travel.’
It added:’ Taxis may seem like a convenient option, but traffic is unpredictable and it will take longer than you expect. We do not recommend taking a taxi on match day due to extensive road closures around the stadium.
‘We strongly advise travelling on the shuttle buses or public transport instead.’
On Friday Inter experienced the notorious Istanbul traffic as their coach was caught up in a logjam with TV footage showing their blue and black vehicle stationary and as a result, they were late for their media commitments.
Shuttle buses have been laid on for City fans from the Yepikepi festival zone on the southern side of the city while Inter supporters are being ferried from Takism Square.
The first buses are due to leave the City hub from 1pm local time and run until 6pm and two fan zones have been set up near the stadium with food and entertainment and they will open at 2pm.
After that any stragglers will have to take their chance with a taxi which could take as long as 90 minutes or a metro ride with three changes taking a similar amount of time.
There will also be a tight ticket cordon around the stadium with security checks in place and fans have also bene warned they will not be allowed to take coins into the ground.
Fans have been warned they could have a ‘nightmare’ journey to the Ataturk Olympic Stadium
A statement from UEFA said any coins found in any currency would be taken off supporters and donated to a fund set up to help those affected by the Turkey and Syrian earthquake earlier this year.
Officials have drafted in hundreds of extra officers for the match and water cannons have been placed in strategic areas around the centre and MailOnline saw a truck delivering dozens of riot shields to a pen on the city’s famous Istikal Street, close to Taksim Square.
On Friday fans partied into the night downing £1.30 pints and setting off flares around the bar packed area of Nevidaze Street until 4am but there were no reports of any trouble.
The estimated 5,000 City fans without tickets are expected to pack into the Champions League festival area at Yepikepi to watch the game on giant screens while others will head towards bars and restaurants