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  1. ITV Report

Arsenal and Chelsea fans set off for £1,400, two-day journey to Baku for Europa League final

Arsenal and Chelsea fans are setting off on an arduous 2,500 mile journey to watch the two London teams battle it out for the Europa League title in Baku.

The clubs successfully navigated the semi-finals of the second-tier European competition this month, but fans have had to plan their route to the Azerbaijan capital, which sits on the coast of the Caspian Sea and is further east from London than Saudi Arabia's Riyadh or Damascus in Syria.

Gunners and Blues fans face a difficult journey trying to get to Baku, with no direct flights from London in the days leading up to the match, with the majority of trips taking between 10 and 14 hours.

The trip east could even take up to 58 hours if you drive - and that's if there's no traffic.

Arsenal and Chelsea fans face an arduous 2,500 mile journey to watch the two London teams battle it out for the Europa League title in Baku. Credit: PA/ AP

Father and son Brian and Lloyd Tennant cancelled their June holiday to Tenerife to make their £3,000 trip to Baku.

The pair took off from England on Sunday and touched down in Istanbul before setting off again five hours later to Baku.

Dad Brian told ITV News in the Azerbaijani capital: "It's not cheap but if you love Arsenal, you come.

"And it's a great opportunity to be here with my son, to experience a European final, so, [it's] amazing.

"We were due to fly to Tenerife on June 8 so we cancelled that trip to come here instead, so we lost some money our flights to Tenerife as well."

  • How to get to Baku?
Driving from London to Baku could take 58 hours on a direct route - although motorists would have to navigate a closed border between Russia and Ukraine. Credit: Google Maps

It isn't going to be easy for football fans flying from England.

Fans making the trip are facing the prospect of multiple stopovers in European countries, depending on the time they decide to make the mid-week trip.

The cheapest return flights from London Heathrow to Baku, via a stopover in Istanbul, Turkey, cost more than £1,130 and will take longer than 20 hours.

Ticket prices were constantly rising too, so fans looking to make the journey should have booked sooner rather than later to avoid breaking the bank.

To add insult to injury, flight times from the English capital are late at night, the earliest leaving at 10.15pm from London, while return flights leave Baku at 2.15am.

Arsenal's travelling away fans face a 2,500 trip to watch their team play in their first European final in 13 years. Credit: PA

If flying doesn't take your fancy, you could drive - although you might want some company, as Google Maps says the journey would take 58 hours if there is no traffic along the way.

This direct route which takes you through the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and Ukraine and Russia, is likely to take longer, however, as there is a closed border between Ukraine and Russia along the route owing to heightened political tensions.

If you wanted to go via train, the whole journey could take you through seven different counties and a two-day train journey from Kharkiv in Ukraine to Baku.

Return flight from London to Baku are already costing up to nearly £1,400. Credit: opodo.co.uk
  • Who will be making the trip to Baku?

The final will be held in the 68,700 seat Baku Olympic Stadium - but Chelsea and Arsenal have only been given allocations of 6,000 tickets each.

Many seats in the stadium will be corporate.

In a statement, the club said: "There will be thousands of fans who have supported the club for years and been part of our Europa League journey this season, who will be unable to attend."

Tickets will be priced between £26 and £121, with the majority costing £43.

Oil derricks in the background beyond the Bibi Heybat Mosque in Baku, Azerbaijan. Credit: AP

It's not just Arsenal and Chelsea fans who will suffer, as Liverpool and Tottenham have been allocated 16,613 tickets each for their Champions League final at the 68,000-seater Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid.

Fans making the trip to Azerbaijan also needed to apply for a visa.

To make matters worse for Arsenal, Armenian international Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not be taking part in the final owing to hostilities between his home nation and Azerbaijan.

During Arsenal's earlier Europa League fixture against Qarabag in Baku, the 30-year-old did not travel with the club.

Chelsea beat Eintracht Frankfurt on penalties to get through their Europa League semi-final. Credit: PA
  • What is there to do in Baku?

With the final being held on a Wednesday, many fans will have had to take a number of days off work, so will surely be looking to make the most of their getaway.

At the centre of Baku lies the Old City, which is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The picturesque city is a blend which combines the charm of Paris with the modernity of Dubai's architecture, giving tourists a mix of attractions to enjoy.

The Old Town in Baku is popular among tourists who want to get an authentic feel for the city. Credit: AP

The other of Azerbaijan’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites is the Gobustan National Park, which attracts thousands of tourists annually.

Azerbajian's largest water park is located 20 miles outside of Baku, which could tempt those heading with their families.

Temperatures around this time of the year hover around the mid-20Cs, a nice change from the mid-teens in England.

Cuisine in Azerbaijan resembles its neighbouring country, blending a mixture of European and Middle Eastern traditions, combining vegetables like aubergine, tomato, cabbage, radish with rice, bread and meats.

Diners could try plov, the national dish of Azerbaijan which typically combines rice, fried meat and spices together.

The Europa League final will be held in the Baku Olympic Stadium. Credit: PA
  • What are the fans saying?

Understandably, many have not been happy about the situation.

Andrew Allen, deputy editor at fan website Arseblog news, tweeted: "Arsenal (and presumably also Chelsea) have been allocated 6,000 tickets for the Europa League final in Baku. The stadium holds just shy of 69,000. Nice one UEFA."

Another added: "I realize that the venues for the European finals are set well in advance, but does it really make sense for two teams from London, along with staff, press and especially supporters to travel this distance?"

Lav tweeted: "Makes no sense for both arsenal and chelsea to travel 5000 km to play in the final, should play in Wembley."

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To make matters worse for fans, the final will kick off at 11pm local time in order to maximise its appeal to a Western audience, meaning the final could finish close to 2am if the game goes to penalties.