London - Liverpool have complained to the "highest
levels" of European football governing body UEFA as spiralling
accommodation and travel costs threaten to turn the Champions League final
against Real Madrid into a nightmare for fans.
Thousands of supporters from England and Spain will converge
on Kiev for Saturday's showpiece between two of the giants of European
But while excitement levels are mounting, fans are being
forced to pay extortionate prices after hotels in the Ukrainian capital began
charging up to 100 times their standard rates and some supporters found their
early reservations had been cancelled.
Liverpool chief executive Peter Moore said the Ukrainian
capital, which hosted the Euro 2012 final, was not fit for purpose,
highlighting difficulties with flights and accommodation.
"They just don't have the airport infrastructure and
the hotel capacity to cope with an event of this size and there isn't another
major city within real hitting distance of it," he told the Liverpool Echo
"It's not only affected Liverpool fans but Real Madrid
fans too. There will be lessons learned from this. Rest assured, I've raised
this at the highest levels of UEFA."
Liverpool head of club and supporter liaison Tony Barrett
said he sympathised with fans over their plight.
"For those of you who get to Kiev, I hope it's worth
every penny and every ounce of effort that you have put in," he tweeted.
"For those who don't - and there are already far too
many in this position - I apologise for not being able to help you. Football
without fans is nothing."
Real Madrid fans are faced with similar problems. More than
2,000 have reportedly returned their tickets due to the logistical difficulties
and spiralling costs, although the club have not confirmed the report.
Real Madrid fan Marcos Sanchez secured accommodation well in
advance but his bookings were cancelled and prices skyrocketed.
"Everything has been a nightmare," he said.
"I have reported it on social networks and Ukrainian journalists have even
called me because it gives a bad image for the city and the country.
"People have created a Facebook group offering their
houses in Kiev for free and it works brilliantly, its genuine."
Spanish fan groups have organised accommodation outside
Ukraine as well as in Kiev and many fans are flying straight in and out.
Nabil Alturek, president of fan group Pena Capote Y Montera,
said two groups were travelling. One will sleep in Warsaw one night and Kiev
the next before returning to Warsaw and the other will spend the night at the
airport in the Ukraine capital.
"It was cheap because we booked a long time ago,"
he said. "We were shocked by the cancellations, but we were lucky, we paid
40 or 50 euros per person" at the hotel in Kiev".
But Kiev mayor Vitali Klitschko, the former world
heavyweight boxing champion, gave a robust response about situation in the
city, saying reports of tickets being returned was "fake news".
"There are no hotel rooms left for the Champions
League," he said.
"The fact that prices are going up before a major
event, this happens in other places besides Kiev," he added. "This is
world practice. The city cannot regulate business - these are the laws of the
Liverpool's Moore has hailed the collective efforts of
Liverpool supporters and staff and said club officials were working hard to
stamp down on tickets being sold by touts.
"We are acutely aware of the issues that our supporters
have faced in terms of obtaining tickets, arranging travel, and organising
accommodation for the final," he wrote on Liverpool's website.
"The entire 16 626 allocation that Liverpool received
from UEFA for the final has now been sold and the club is aware of instances of
tickets being sold at extortionate prices, with a number of cases currently
being investigated," he said.
British police have warned fans without tickets not to
travel to Ukraine and have advised against buying tickets from touts.