I’m writing this on Monday May 4th, what could be the beginning of an epochal week for Chelsea Football Club. With Barca shorn of Marquez (injured), Puyol (suspension) and Henry (injury) surely there could be no better time to be playing the Catalonians in a Champions League semi final? Yes, they have the best attacking line up in world football but like any attacking team, they have defensive frailties too.With Stamford Bridge in full voice and ‘Carefree’ echoing around a tight pitch, I fancy us to win – and win we must in order to win the tie because at some point Barca are going to score.
But that’s not the problem.
The problem is if Chelsea do win, how the **** are we fans going to get to Rome?
Plane? Think again because on Tuesday night Arsenal play Man Utd in the other semi final. That means that whichever team wins, all flights from England to Rome and any nearby airport (think 300 mile radius) will be sold out because the Mancs or Goons will have got there first.
There are only 20 daily flights to Rome with a capacity of 300 people per plane. That’s 6,000 seats per day – with 30,000 Goons or Mancs snapping them up immediately their semi final is over. By kick-off on Wednesday night every ticket will be gone. Already many flights to Rome are booked out. Those that are left cost upwards of £500. And that’s before either semi has kicked off.
Plane? Fuggedaboutit unless you travel with the official Club trip – and who’s to know what’s available? Certainly, if you haven’t got a ticket you won’t be going on an official Club trip anyway (that eliminates 80,000 members because all Final tickets will go to Season Ticket holders).
Car? If you fancy 900 miles with a stop off in Lyon that won’t be too bad. But it’s a helluva shlepp. It’ll be like the Italian job only more boring. Nasty.
Train? Paul Hoffman of the New York Times’ tale of the Zurich-Rome express is enough to make anyone wince.
What to do? Some people are already hedging their bets and buying flights now to Italy for £180 return on some budget airlines. The problem is that there are no outward flights on Tuesday and no return flights on Thursday. Damn. Any away trip veteran will tell you that the best tip is always to make a hasty exit in case you lose. Sitting around Rome for 48 hours if we’ve lost, whilst dodging the Roma buttock knifers, won’t be a pleasant experience.
But at this moment it looks like the best option. The million dollar question is, do we risk £180 now and hope we get through Wednesday’s tie or leave the flight booking till after the match and find there is nothing available? To lose £180 on Wednesday night as well as seeing our team crash out could simply be too much to bear…..but surely it’s better than seeing the mighty Blues win and finding there is no way to get to Rome except walk?
Answers on a postcard to World’s End Estate, King’s Road.