Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour will pay the travel costs for “several thousand” fans to attend the Champions League final, the club have announced.
City have received an allocation of 6,000 tickets for the May 29 showpiece against Chelsea in Porto.
Eligible supporters will now be offered a place on the club’s official trip to Porto when they purchase their tickets.
Travel to and from Portugal will take place within a 24-hour period, as a Portuguese government minister had said would need to be the case last week.
A City statement read: “Thousands of City supporters will benefit from the initiative which is designed to ease the financial pressure on fans who have faced – and are still facing – challenging circumstances due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Cognisant of how the pandemic has affected all Manchester City supporters and has created an increase in travel costs, Sheikh Mansour has sought to remove the most significant financial barrier to fans attending the final.
“The Covid-inflated costs, combined with necessary but expensive PCR testing, would have rendered the trip to the final unmanageable for many of those supporters lucky enough to qualify for a ticket.
“Due to the necessary Covid-related restrictions in place, the majority of fans wishing to attend the historic first final for the club are required to do so within a 24-hour trip, meaning that His Highness’ initiative will fund the transport of several thousand City fans on the official travel package on the day of the final.”
UEFA did not mention the 24-hour requirement when the European governing body confirmed it was moving the match from Istanbul to Porto, due to travel restrictions, last Thursday.
A number of supporters had already made independent bookings for travel and accommodation when it later emerged they might have to travel in and out of Portugal on the day.
“Those who come to the final of the Champions League will come and return on the same day, with a test done, in a bubble situation, on charter flights,” said Portugal’s cabinet affairs minister Mariana Vieira da Silva.
“There will be two fan zones and from there they will be moved to the stadium and from the stadium to the airport, being in Portugal less than 24 hours.”
City fans with other arrangements may now consider cancelling and booking onto the official trip.
Sheikh Mansour said: “Pep (Guardiola) and the team have had such a remarkable season and their reaching of the Champions League final after a very challenging year represents a truly historic moment for the club.
“It is therefore incredibly important that as many fans as possible have the opportunity to attend this special game, especially those who have supported Manchester City through good and bad times for so many years.”
Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak added: “The challenges faced by supporters ahead of this final are multiple, both in financial and logistical terms.
“Hopefully His Highness’ initiative allows the majority of our attending fans to focus on enjoying the day rather than worrying about how to bear the burden of travel costs which have become all the more onerous due to the effects of the pandemic.”
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