UEFA have come under severe criticism from the Arsenal board and fans alike, as the logistics of hosting the Europa League final in Baku are proving very problematic.
European football’s governing body have also received flak for the ticket allocations given to both the Gunners and Chelsea, with each club receiving just 6,000 tickets for the match taking place nearly 3,000 miles away from London.
A statement released on the Arsenal website on Thursday says: “We are bitterly disappointed by the fact that due to transport limitations Uefa can only make a maximum of 6,000 tickets available to Arsenal for a stadium with a capacity of well over 60,000.
“Time will tell if it is even possible for 6,000 Arsenal fans to attend the match, given how extreme the travel challenges are.”
Clearly, at odds with the decision, the club continued: “We have received many complaints from our fans about this and we fully share their concerns.”
Matters were only made worse when the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust were contacted by season-ticket holders, who were unable to attend because of their British-Armenian heritage. Due to the political tensions between Azerbijan and Armenian, it is almost impossible for anybody with an Armenian parent to get access to the country.
This adds to the north London club’s concern that Armenian Henrikh Mkhitaryan may not be able to play in the game, due to fears over the midfielder’s safety.
The club concluded their website statement by saying: “Moving forward we would urge UEFA to ensure that supporter logistics and requirements are a key part of any future decisions for final venues as what has happened this season is unacceptable, and cannot be repeated.”
Ahead of the final with Chelsea, which takes place on 29 May, all eyes will be on the fans and their experiences in attending the fixture. UEFA will be desperate for the event to go smoothly, as any further trouble will bring yet more condemnation from the footballing world.