May 17, 2019 - 16:14 AMT
UEFA defends decision to hold Europa League final in Baku

UEFA have promised to work together with Arsenal to help fans get to the Europa League final against Chelsea, which will be held in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku later this month.

UEFA, though, defended the decision to award the showpiece final to Baku, talkSPORT says.

The two Premier League rivals are set to meet at the city’s Olympic Stadium on May 29 – but the decision to host the fixture some 2,800 miles away from London has thrown up plenty of issues.

Arsenal and Chelsea have already declared their disappointment at the ticket allocation for the final, with both clubs receiving in the region of 6,000 tickets each for a stadium which has a full capacity of 69,870.

On Thursday, UEFA competitions director Giorgio Marchetti wrote a letter to Arsenal regarding the issues raised, in which he said: “I confirm our availability to work with you in order to find helpful solutions for your fans.”

Travel to Baku is also proving an issue for those fans who have qualified for a match ticket, with fans heading out from London facing a round trip of some 2,500 miles to attend the game.

Arsenal are also liaising with the Foreign Office after it emerged season-ticket holders with dual British and Armenian citizenship have been denied visas to visit Baku because of tensions with neighbouring Azerbaijan.

Marchetti’s letter continued: “It goes without saying that an all-English final played by two London teams was not a very predictable event at the time of the appointment. There is little doubt that this has added significant difficulties to the event logistics.

“We are really sorry for the problems that your (and Chelsea’s) fans are encountering trying to organise their journey to Baku.

“Our experts are keenly working on this matter with a view to help find cheaper solutions for travelling fans. We would welcome a joint effort with your club in this respect.”

Arsenal are facing further issues as there is still uncertainty over whether Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be able to travel to Baku for the fixture due to the aforementioned lack of relations between Azerbaijan and the midfielder’s native Armenia.

UEFA’s response did not discuss Mkhitaryan’s chances of being awarded a visa for the match, though they have previously promised to work with Arsenal to sort one out.