English fans travelling to the Champions League final in Moscow may have an easier trip than was first feared.
Match organizers and Uefa are close to finalising a solution whereby supporters will get ‘express’ Russian visas.
Officials from Chelsea and Manchester United, along with the Home Office and the police, met with their Russian counterparts on Friday and it has been agreed in principle that match tickets can replace the official invitation usually needed for a visa.
“We hope for further alleviation,” said match coordinator Alexei Sorokin.
Is it estimated that 50,000 fans will travel to Russia to watch the game on 21st May – presenting a number of logistical challenges for Russian organisers.
Since the all-English final became a certainty on Tuesday evening, Uefa have been working with Russian officials to find a simpler solution than the orthodox route of applying for visas through the Russian Embassy in London.
Both clubs have been given 21,000 tickets each for the Luzhniki Stadium, where the capacity is being set at 69,500 for the final.
Manchester United has said that supporters planning to travel will find it easier than normal to get a visa, suggesting those on charter flights approved by the club would be eligible for special arrangements.
And United chief executive David Gill was part of the English delegation which met with Russian officials and Uefa in Moscow on Thursday.
“The visa issue has been there for a while,” he told MUTV before embarking on the trip. “If you are on an organised trip, your ticket will be your visa.
“The actual specifics and fine details will be addressed in the next day or so and then we will communicate with the fans.