Manchester City fans party late into the night in Istanbul as supporters told to ‘get to the ground early’ ahead of ‘nightmare’ trip to Champions League final against Inter
Manchester City fans partied into the early hours ahead of tonight’s Champions League grand final against Inter and were urged by UEFA to ‘get down to earth early’.
Twenty thousand tickets were sold to City for the game and a similar number went to the Italian opposition with the rest of the 72,000-seat stadium made up of locals, ballot winners and delegations.
But what will add to City fans’ headaches as they sober up is the ‘nightmare’ journey to the land outskirts of the sprawling city of Istanbul, which lies 40 kilometers from the center where City fans City rallied.
UEFA are keen to avoid a repeat of the chaotic scenes that marred last season’s final between Liverpool and Real Madrid in Paris – where kick-off was delayed for 37 minutes.
At the time, UEFA shamelessly blamed Liverpool supporters, but in reality it turned out that legitimate ticket holders had been funneled into dangerously tight bottlenecks – and they were gassed for their trouble.
Manchester City fans partied into the early hours in Istanbul ahead of tonight’s final
City fans have been warned they could face a difficult journey to the final in Istanbul
City supporters gathered in the city center, about 25 miles from where the game will take place
A supporter was seen with a rocket as fans kicked off the festivities during the evening
Officials later apologized and took responsibility for the scenes and, therefore, urged fans to “get to the ground early” for the 10 p.m. local kickoff.
A message on the final UEFA Champions League app read: “Istanbul traffic can be extremely busy! You are almost guaranteed to need much more time than expected.
‘Use the free shuttles or public transport. Avoid taxi travel.
He added: “Taxis may seem like a convenient option, but traffic is unpredictable and it will take longer than expected. We do not recommend taking a taxi on match day due to the many road closures around the stadium.
“We strongly advise you to travel on shuttles or public transport instead.”
Inter experienced the notorious traffic of Istanbul on Friday as their coach was caught in a traffic jam 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 set up for city fans from the Yepikepi festival area in the south of the city, while Inter fans are transported from Takism Square.
The first buses are due to leave the city hub from 1:00 p.m. local time and run until 6:00 p.m. and two fan zones have been set up near the stadium with food and entertainment and will open at 2:00 p.m.
After that, any latecomers will have to try their luck with a taxi which could take up to 90 minutes or a metro ride with three changes taking a similar time.
There will also be a tight ticket cordon around the stadium with security checks in place and fans have also been warned that they will not be allowed to take coins into the ground.
Fans have been warned they may have a ‘nightmare’ trip to Ataturk’s Olympic Stadium
A statement from UEFA said all coins found in any currency would be withdrawn from supporters and donated to a fund set up to help those affected by the earthquake in Turkey and Syria earlier this year.
Officials recruited hundreds more officers for the game and water cannons were placed in strategic areas around the center and MailOnline saw a lorry deliver dozens of riot shields to a bullpen in the famous Istikal Street from the city, near Taksim Square.
Fans partied into the night drinking £1.30 pints and setting off flares around the crowded bar area of Nevidaze Street until 4am on Friday, but there were no problems reported.
The roughly 5,000 City fans without tickets are expected to head to the Champions League festival area in Yepikepi to watch the match on giant screens while others head to bars and restaurants.