European finals do not come around often for The Arsenal.
If there is one part of our trophy laden history that is disappointing, it is success on the continent. Still yet to win a European Cup, we have only been in 6 European finals in our history – winning just two.
That is why, regardless of whether it is a Champions League, Europa League, UEFA Cup of European Cup Winners Cup final, it is something to be treasured.
It is also why the decision by UEFA to host the final in Baku is such a frustrating one.
Baku is simply an unsuitable venue. From it’s airport, the lack of flights and lack of hotels, it was always going to be unable to take thousands of travelling supporters no matter which 2 teams qualified. You have to wonder how exactly they won the bid to host the final.
UEFA will celebrate that hosting the final in Baku has enabled fans from around the globe who usually would have been unable to go to such a game attend. They will say that the decision has to host in Baku is justified as it is football for all.
The issue with hosting it in Baku has meant that fans who go week in, week out are unable to go. Finals are the reward for fans who go every week, maybe for years, without seeing success. That is why Arsenal prioritise season ticket holders when it comes to the allocation of tickets.
In future, UEFA need to ensure that host cities are accessible from throughout Europe regardless of which country they are travelling from. They must have an airport to cope with the capacity of thousands of travelling fans, have enough hotels and not restrict people from certain nations.
Even in UEFA’s own bid documents, they admitted that Baku was an unsuitable venue
But the decision has been made, and fans are making their way to Baku as we speak. Whether it be direct flights, via Riga, Istanbul or Tbilisi, there are a few thousand making their way out there. Fair play to them all.
For those going out there, our friends Arsenal Azerbaijan Supporters Club have put together a guide to Baku.
Anyone looking to watch the final in Islington, we have put together a comprehensive pub guide. Our advice; aim to wherever you want to watch it early and be prepared for your 1st choice pub to already be full.
We have lost our last 3 European finals in a row. Hopefully tomorrow night we put an end to that run and finish the season on a high.