Page last updated at 14:03 GMT, Wednesday, 21 May 2008 15:03 UK

Fans stranded by cancelled flight

Lenin statue at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium
The fans said they found out too late to make alternative plans

More than 200 football fans have given up hope of reaching the Champions League final after their chartered flight to Moscow was cancelled.

The 224 Chelsea supporters were stranded at Gatwick airport for about six hours before finding out they would not reach the UEFA final at 1945 BST.

About 30 police officers were called out after reports of disturbances but there was no serious trouble.

An airport spokesman said there was a hydraulic fault with the plane.

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

We are choked about the way we have been treated
Neil Turner, Chelsea fan

The fans were told the 0555 BST flight had been delayed, but it was eventually cancelled at about 1300 BST.

Neil Turner, a "life-long fan" who was travelling to Moscow with his father-in-law and some friends, said he was "absolutely gutted" to have missed the final.

"This is the pinnacle of our Chelsea years," he said. "We are choked about the way we have been treated."

He said the fans, who had paid about £1,000 each for the day trip, were told too late to make alternative plans to get to Moscow.

'Totally devastated'

"We've kind of exhausted every avenue. We're kind of at a bit of a loose end now, it's not going to be quite what we thought it was," he added.

"They've said to us that they will refund our flights, which is very kind of them, however, the way we've been treated has been appalling really."

Steven Webb, a 44-year-old fan from Croydon, said he wasted nine hours at the airport waiting for the plane booked through Flight Options, which organised several flights to Moscow for the match.

"At one point we were on the bus travelling to board and were just driven around in a circle back to where we had come from," he said.

"We've been totally devastated."

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SEE ALSO
Live - Champions League final
21 May 08 |  Europe
Fans head to Moscow
20 May 08 |  UK

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