sport news IAN LADYMAN: 's trip to Galatasary was yet another untold ... trends now

sport news IAN LADYMAN: 's trip to Galatasary was yet another untold ... trends now
sport news IAN LADYMAN: Manchester United's trip to Galatasary was yet another untold ... trends now

sport news IAN LADYMAN: Manchester United's trip to Galatasary was yet another untold ... trends now

Standing in puddles in a dark concrete alleyway by the malfunctioning turnstiles of Galatasaray’s RAMS Park Stadium, the Manchester United supporters were relieved when a decision was taken to open a small door to the side. It didn’t feel particularly safe to funnel 500 people through such a tight space but at least it meant they may finally get in to see the game. Inside the stadium last Wednesday, their team were already two goals up.

At full-time, meanwhile, a decision was taken to hold those same United supporters inside for 80 minutes. By the time they left on a wet night, it was late and the handful of shuttle buses provided for the 10 mile journey to central Istanbul were filling up fast. Some tried hitching lifts by the motorway. Others found taxis asking for $US100.

And this is often what it’s like when you travel in the Champions League. Europe’s flagship tournament treats its corporate guests and sponsors well. No shortage of transport, signage and canapes for those in the padded seats. The regular supporters? Not so much. Increasingly, UEFA and their pals don’t much seem to care about how the paying public get there and even less about how they get home.

So on the top of much-publicised incidents at Paris for the 2022 final and yet again, on a lesser but still disturbing scale, at a different Istanbul stadium for the following year’s showpiece, come stories like this, stories of fans left at the mercy of inadequate stadiums, pitiful organisation and rank bad stewarding and policing just to try and watch a football match. It’s shameful and as football continues to put money first and supporters nowhere the worse it is allowed to get.

United fan Matt Ford was in Istanbul and told me: ‘We got to the ground in decent time but it was obvious we weren’t getting in.

Manchester United supporters were greeted with a banner welcoming them to 'Hell' in Turkey

Manchester United supporters were greeted with a banner welcoming them to 'Hell' in Turkey

UEFA were widely derided for their chaotic mismanagement of fans at the 2022 Champions League final in Paris

UEFA were widely derided for their chaotic mismanagement of fans at the 2022 Champions League final in Paris

Scores of fans with tickets were kept out at Stade de France in shameful scenes in the capital

Scores of fans with tickets were kept out at Stade de France in shameful scenes in the capital

‘There were lots of signs for media and sponsors but nothing for away fans.

‘We found it. Down some steps into a dark tunnel. Water everywhere. Stumbling over wooden pallets on the floor. People falling over. And then to turnstiles and scanners that weren’t working properly.

‘The stewards and police were shouting. I wasn’t scared because I have been here before. But was it dangerous? Yes.

‘We were all crammed in with nowhere to go. So what happened to Liverpool fans in Paris crosses your mind. Of course it does.

‘Eventually they gave up and took us round the side through a fire exit. One copper and he is shouting. Eventually you get in and its £2 for a carton of water and the card machines aren’t working.

‘Then after the game, when you eventually get to town, you are just relieved and the shocking thing is that it’s so often like this.

‘The Champions League makes millions but at an away game it’s like the 1980s. They just don’t care about you.’

Ford is a journalist who contributes to the United We Stand fanzine. But his experiences are entirely normal and will be familiar to travelling fans associated with all English clubs.

I was in Milan in September for Newcastle’s game. Afterwards away fans found the two local metro stations shut at 9pm and in the absence of taxis were forced to walk an hour back in to the city. Once they had dispersed the Metro stations were opened again.

Manchester City fans returning home from their team’s Champions League final in Turkey last June told horrendous stories of being corralled like cattle before the game and then abandoned miles from the city once it was over. Many were scared.

Ford and his travel companions attach no blame for last week to United and nor should they. As usual the club had done extensive reconnaissance, had its own stewards present, had provided the shuttle buses themselves. They then leant on UEFA and Galatasaray to act once they became aware of

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