Page last updated at 14:17 GMT, Tuesday, 26 May 2009 15:17 UK

United fans begin Rome journeys

Manchester United fan Chris Nolan at Manchester Airport prior to flying out to Rome for the UEFA Champions League Final
Chris Nolan joined thousands of other football fans heading to Rome

Thousands of Manchester United fans have started travelling to Rome ahead of the Champions League final.

About 30,000 supporters are expected in the Italian capital ahead of the clash with FC Barcelona on Wednesday night.

A major security operation is under way in the city, where an alcohol ban is in place around the Olympic stadium and at airports and railway stations.

Manchester Airport is expecting 20,000 fans to fly on its 44 services to Rome on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Managers say it will be their busiest period of the year and extra staff have been put on shift.

Managing director Andrew Cornish said: "It's obviously great news for Manchester United that they've reached the final but it's also excellent news for Manchester Airport and for the region as a whole.

Italian police with Champions League trophy
Our biggest worry will be the 5,000 fans without a ticket or with false tickets
Rome mayor Gianni Alemanno

"We are expecting to be very busy as the fans fly in and out and we will, of course, bring in extra staff to help speed the fans through as efficiently as possible.

"We will be working closely with the airlines to meet the demand for flights and are committed to making the fans' journey as simple and enjoyable as possible."

The authorities in Rome believe up to 30,000 fans of the Catalan club will also travel to the city.

And Rome's mayor Gianni Alemanno said visiting fans without tickets could present problems.

British officers

"Our biggest worry will be the 5,000 fans without a ticket or with false tickets," he said.

"I have asked (interior) minister Roberto Maroni to have maximum attention from the security officers to avoid any incidents.

"To prevent any incidents we have spoken to Rome football fans and asked them to show maximum solidarity."

Cristiano Ronaldo arrives in Rome
Manchester United's players have already arrived in the Italian capital

Fans without match tickets, which have personal information embedded in a microchip, have been warned they have no chance of getting into the stadium.

Supporters will have to produce photographic identity to confirm they are the legitimate holder, matching the details on the ticket.

In total, 73 banning orders are in place to stop convicted hooligans from Manchester travelling.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) have urged United supporters to use public transport to get to the stadium, and not walk to the ground.

There are 12 British officers on duty in Rome, some in uniform and others in plain clothes acting as hooligan spotters.

Manchester United's players flew out to Rome on Monday following the final Premier League match of the season the day before.

They are bidding to become the first team to retain the Champions League trophy.

Barcelona, who also won their domestic league title, last won the top European prize in 2006.



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SEE ALSO
Rome puts alcohol limits on final
25 May 09 |  Europe
Warning to ticketless United fans
22 May 09 |  Manchester
Henry & Iniesta doubts for final
21 May 09 |  Europe
Man Utd fans given Rome warning
20 May 09 |  Manchester
Councils confirm Man Utd parade
13 May 09 |  Manchester
Uefa confident of safe Euro final
08 May 09 |  Europe

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