Page last updated at 18:24 GMT, Wednesday, 21 May 2008 19:24 UK

United fans' 'home and away' trip

Lenin statue at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium
Manchester United fans arrived at Stansted Airport only to be turned back

A tour operator has denied sending Man United fans heading to the Champions League final 400 miles out their way.

Three coachloads of fans arrived at Stansted Airport in Essex in the early hours - only to be turned back north.

Pure Sports Ltd said the passengers were always due to be flying from Stansted but there had been a problem with the 0500 BST flight.

About 70 fans were transferred by coach to an alternative charter flight from Manchester to Moscow, at 1040 BST.

The flight out of Manchester was then delayed until 1120 BST.

It was horrendous - we really felt for the fans
Pure Sports spokesman

A spokesman for Pure Sports, which is based in West Sussex, said seven planes had been booked for the day, and as soon as they realised there was a problem at Stansted they stopped taking bookings.

He said: "A few people decided to cancel, and we have given them a full refund, even though it was beyond our control, because it was the operators who let us down.

"It was horrendous - we really felt for the fans - they'd been looking forward to this for a whole month, and we did everything in our power to ensure they weren't disappointed.

"We are a reputable company, and have been organising tours like this for over ten years - we are proud of our reputation."

'Bit jaded'

A spokesman for Manchester Airport said: "The lads were a bit jaded by the time they arrived with us, so we smothered them with lots of tender loving care - and got them through to the bar as soon as possible."

There were rumours that the Stansted flight was cancelled because of trouble between rival fans, but this was denied by the airport management.

A spokesman said: "There was never any question of the flight being cancelled - it was not one being operated from Stansted. As far as we're concerned, it was the tour operator's mistake."

Manchester United and Chelsea are competing to become the European champions in the competition's first all-England final.

Fans head to Moscow
20 May 08 |  UK

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