Baku Olympic Stadium Was Opened For Free During Europa League Final
Chelsea and Arsenal fans either couldn't or wouldn't go to the Europa League final in Baku on Wednesday and Azerbaijani officials were so embarrassed at their empty stadium they let locals in for free during the game.
Imagine being one of those poor Arsenal supporting souls who decided to travel the near 5,000 mile round trip, spending 1000s of pounds no doubt, to see your team absolutely battered in the Europa League final, it couldn't have been all that fun in hindsight.
Admittedly there weren't many of them, nor were there that many Chelsea fans either, and understandably so.
The two clubs were only given 6,000 tickets each for the final, a ridiculous number for the near 70,000 seater Baku Olympic Stadium (which has never held the Olympics by the by), and then had to send some of those tickets back.
It was no surprise with the distance the fans would have to travel and cost they'd have to endure that many didn't want to go and the seats were left empty.
According to The Times, authorities in Azerbaijan were so embarrassed by how empty the stadium looked on television that they decided to open turnstiles for free to the public to try and fill it more.
One fan told the newspaper, "We were in the Arsenal corner and there were a lot of empty seats and suddenly after about 30 minutes lots of local people arrived, including some kids, and they had been given Arsenal flags to wave."
The report also says that UEFA weren't happy with the decision but it was taken out of their hands and was the choice of local authorities.
Europe's football governing body had come under criticism for holding the game in Baku, not least because it meant that Arsenal midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan refused to travel because of the political conflict between the host country and his country Armenia.
The whole thing isn't a good look for UEFA especially at Baku is set to host games during Euro 2020 next summer, when games will be spread throughout Europe, and they have said there's no plans to review that choice.
Things have been better for Spurs and Liverpool fans going to Madrid this weekend for the Champions League final and even their most inventive routes to the Spanish capital haven't been as expensive and long as their Premier League counterparts earlier in the week.
For those wanting to get ahead of the curve for next season the Champions League final is taking place in Istanbul and the Europa League final will be in Gdansk.
It might be a while before Baku gets another chance.