Page last updated at 09:25 GMT, Thursday, 1 May 2008 10:25 UK

Hefty bill beckons for Champions League trip

By Simon Atkinson
Business reporter, BBC News

Chelsea fans celebrate
Chelsea's Russian connection may increase demand for tickets

Football fans eyeing a trip to this month's Champions League final in Moscow face high ticket costs, pricey hotel rooms, expensive flights and potential problems with getting visas.

The clash between Chelsea and Manchester United at the Luzhniki Stadium is the first time that the event will be contested by two English clubs.

More than 42,000 fans will travel to Russia to watch the game on May 21.

And the UK government has launched a web page giving advice and tips for football fans intending to head to the final, offering "specific travel advice on how to enjoy a trouble-free and successful visit to Moscow".

Abramovich factor

Three weeks before the big match, fans are already being offered tickets to the game for more than 5,000 each.

Secondary ticketing websites are looking to cash in on demand with hundreds of tickets up for sale at more than 20 times their face value.

Under the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006, it is illegal for UK firms to sell on football tickets over the internet.

However firms based outside the UK are not covered by the legislation.

The face value price for tickets for the final is expected to range from 80 euros to 200 euros (63 to 158).

It's not only going to be a case of finding somewhere to stay, but finding somewhere that you can afford
Rupert Wingfield-Hayes
BBC Moscow reporter

But US ticket website is advertising six VIP tickets at $10,000 (5,030) each, with its cheapest tickets at $5,020 (2,526)

Meanwhile, the price at 1st4 Football Tickets UK ranges from 1,125 for "Chelsea End, behind the goal" to 3,750 for a full hospitality ticket.

Another website, Cheap-Tickets4u is offering more than 150 tickets for the game - with the price starting at $2,500 (1,258) each and moving up to $8,800 (4,430).

Analysts say that the presence of Chelsea in the final will push up the price of tickets, with wealthy Russians also clamouring to see the side owned by their countryman Roman Abramovich.

'Logistical nightmare'

However, ticket costs are just the beginning for English supporters hoping to see their side lift the trophy.

If they want a Russian visa, travelling fans will need to secure confirmed accommodation and a flight booking. screen grab
Fans desperate enough to attend the final face paying massive mark-ups

There are fears that the sheer volume of visas needed for the travelling fans means that they will not be issued in time for the final - despite pledges from Russian authorities to fast-track applications.

The BBC's Moscow correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes said that organising so many visas in such a short space of time could prove "a logistical nightmare" for the Russians.

However Champions League organiser Uefa is confident English supporters will be able to get Russian visas in time for the final in Moscow.

Uefa and the Russian Embassy expect to make an announcement with full details on Thursday.

"We are finalising an express way to get visas," Uefa spokesman William Gaillard said.

"We've had extreme goodwill from the Russian government to make it easy for fans. It will be a major breakthrough."

Package trips

The hefty costs faced by supporters do not end with tickets and visas.

Flights to Moscow on the day of the final, returning the following day, begin from about 900 per person.

And our correspondent in Moscow said that the city was among the most expensive in the world for foreign tourists, with hotel rooms ranging from 150 to 500 a night.

"It's not only going to be a case of finding somewhere to stay, but finding somewhere that you can afford," he said.

Supporters travelling with charter flights approved by the Manchester United have been told they will benefit from "an unprecedented facilitated visa procedure that will be detailed in the days to come".

And Chelsea has announced a series of day and two night packages from Gatwick, Luton and Stansted airports starting from 749 per person inclusive of match ticket - with priority given to season ticket holders.

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30 Apr 08 |  Europe
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