West Ham fans will be left sorely disappointed by the 4,890 seats allocated to the team for the Europa Conference League final – and getting to Prague will be even tougher now travel prices have shot through the roof.
As the June 7 showpiece event takes place in Prague’s Eden Arena, the eyes of the world will be on the capital of Czechia.
But the stadium has a capacity of 19,370 – less than a third of the size of the London Stadium, West Ham’s Stratford home.
Eager West Ham were quick to book their travel arrangements to Prague after Thursday’s semi-final win at AZ Alkmaar.
But it means that the cheapest direct flight to Prague now costs £1,100 according to Skyscanner, and only likely to get worse as thousands of fans look to travel to soak up the atmosphere in the country’s capital.
The 19,370-capacity Eden Arena will host the Europa Conference League final on June 7
West Ham will receive less than 5,000 tickets, despite playing in a 60,000-capacity ground
Skyscanner reports that the cheapest return flights to Prague are costing almost £1,100
Fans have been opening up about their plans on social media, with some glad they booked before West Ham had advanced to the final, and others making arrangements to travel via Manchester or other cities to save money.
Around 10,000 West Ham fans without tickets attended last season’s Europa League semi-final defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt, and it is thought many will also travel for West Ham’s first European final in 47 years.
UEFA initially set aside 8,500 tickets for the public, and reserved 4,300 for sponsors and national associations. It means each team is getting just 4,890 tickets for the final.
For context, West Ham sold 55,000 season tickets for the 2022-23 season, meaning that less than one in every 11 regular home fans will be able to legitimately buy a ticket for the Hammers section.
Even Fiorentina’s Stadio Artemio Franchi holds 43,147 – more than double the number who will be in attendance on the day.
Many fans are still expected to travel to Prague to soak up the atmosphere in the historic city, but there are concerns that fans might be ripped off by secondary ticket sites and scam artists.
West Ham booked their place in the final against Fiorentina by beating Dutch side AZ Alkmaar
Even before West Ham’s place in the final was confirmed with a 1-0 win over AZ Alkmaar, the Metropolitan Police and The FA raised their concerns about public order, particularly concerning ticketless fans.
UEFA insisted that they could not change the venue as the match was given to Prague last year following a year-long bidding process. However, they accepted their mistake, and vowed to put next year’s final in a stadium with a minimum capacity of 30,000.
The Met would be responsible for maintaining order amongst the travelling fans as West Ham are a London club. The Football Policing Unit take charge of away games involving the English national team, but their responsibilities are passed to local divisions for club matters.
In a further complication, there are less than three weeks until the final, so preparation time is limited, to either support on the ground in Prague, or provide more opportunities for fans in East London.
And security fears in Prague are unlikely to be dampened following Thursday’s incident in Holland, which saw West Ham players stepping in to defend their families from AZ Alkmaar ‘ultras’ after the final whistle was blown.
The Metropolitan Police and The FA previously raised fears about the low ticket numbers
The Hammers were considering plans for a fan zone outside their London Stadium home
MailSport previously revealed that West Ham were considering turning an area of the Olympic Park surrounding the club’s home stadium into a fan zone to allow fans to come together and enjoy the final in June.
But the match against Fiorentina is West Ham’s first European final in 47 years, and it will not be an opportunity that many Hammers fans will pass on if they can.
As previously reported, the cheapest ticket for the final on June 7 will cost just £22.11, with the most expensive to set fans back £110.56.
However, fans on the black market will probably expect to pay significantly more than this – with no guarantee that their tickets are genuine.
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