You’ve booked the time off work. You’ve accrued the necessary points, or waited in a long virtual queue to secure a ticket for Manchester City’s biggest ever game.
You’ve spent a considerable sum of money on tickets (and maybe also flights and accommodation). You’re ready to go to the big one. The Champions League final.
And then, out of nowhere, an already-expensive Covid test comes back with the wrong result and you’re no longer ‘fit to fly.’
That is a risk that thousands of City fans are taking this weekend, as a trip of a lifetime could end in heartbreak before it even begins. It would be peak ‘Typical City’.
Hopefully, every fan with a ticket can get out to Porto and see their tea playing its best football on the biggest stage. They can worry about the result later. After the year everyone has had, a European away trip like this will be one to savour.
The only downside is that only 6,000 loyal Blues will be there in Porto due to the limited attendance at the Estadio do Dragao. Some others will have got tickets through UEFA’s general sale, but for every fan inside the ground this evening there will be hundreds if not thousands more watching on at home wishing they were there.
So what is it like to be a lucky holder of one of those golden tickets?
Thanks to City owner Sheikh Mansour’s generous offer to pay for flights and transfers for supporters going through City for their tickets, the process has been relatively straightforward for most.
Damian Cummings, a season ticket holder for 39 years, has seen legendary players like Mike Summerbee, Colin Bell, Franny Lee and more wear the famous sky blue shirt. Now, he’s off to Porto with three fellow lifelong Blues, and explains the process of securing a ticket for the final.
“City made the process of getting the tickets all fine,” he said, having taken advantage of the offer to travel with City and fly in and out on the same day.
“The main issue is sorting a PCR Covid test and day two test to get into Portugal and come back. It’s the same process if you’re going for one day with no accommodation as it is for a week away on your holidays.
“It was £150 to sort both tests so we are all grateful for the owner’s offer of free flights and transfers.”
Aaron, a season ticket holder since 1998, had a similar experience.
He explained: “The ticket was easy enough as I am fortunate to have about 20,000 loyalty points, so was in the third window opened on the day the tickets were released. A few mates have missed out despite booking flights, a couple of others have gone and been lucky in the UEFA lotto for tickets.
“We’re going with a travel company who we use a lot. I think they have seven flights. There’s three of us going and it cost us £500 for flights and two nights in a hotel, so it’s decent, but the annoying thing is all the tests. About £300 in total for PCRs, then we have the stress in case we’re positive and it’s all off.”
Speaking of stress, spare a thought for Lee Boland, who got all the way to the virtual checkout in UEFA’s general sale before his computer timed him out. And then did it again. And again.
He says: “When I joined the virtual queue on the UEFA website at 1pm I had two laptops and my mobile phone in the queue. My heart was racing, I had sweaty palms, just disbelief to what I was doing. Then I was in the portal to pick tickets. There were two category 3 tickets but then they weren’t available. I refreshed the page but there was only one ticket available. I refreshed again and two category 3 tickets came up but weren’t available again.
“My heart was breaking, but then I refreshed again, and category 2 tickets popped up at €450 each. I said ‘no way’, but my wife said ‘just do it, it’s the chance of a lifetime. Then as I went to buy them it said the event was sold out. That was it. My chance was gone. Then my wife screamed ‘I have two tickets at €450 each!’ I said it was too much money and before I knew it she had purchased the tickets.
“I jumped and screamed while hugging my wife. She’s an amazing woman. Because of her I have Champions League final tickets to see Manchester City! I’m still sweating, still feeling sick. It was more than I had planned to spend but you only live once.”
Lee’s wife Adele came up trumps again, helping him and his stepson arrange to fly from Dublin where they are based, to Lisbon and then travel to Porto, as well as booking them accommodation.
All in, Lee has spent around €2,200 on his trip to Porto, while Damian’s trip is cheaper by travelling with City but still cost £150 for Covid tests, plus tickets, plus spending money. Aaron’s total was around £800 on travel and tests before tickets are accounted for.
Following City to their biggest game isn’t coming cheap to the fans heading out to Portugal. Some fans don’t even have tickets, and are heading to Porto for the atmosphere, in hope of finding a way in when they get there.
1.35pm flight to Porto. It's just a holiday unless any fellow blues know where I can pick up a ticket? Still expecting to have a lot of fun with the blue army. I'm a solo traveler so I'll be easy to spot! #ChampionsLeagueFinal #Porto #MCFC #ctid
— Michael (@Horwichbloke19) May 28, 2021
— Sean Riley 🏴 🐝 (@mcfcsince1894) May 28, 2021
Pcr test done now just the horrendous wait for the email #mcfc
— John McNaught 🐝 (@Johnamc1) May 28, 2021
— Adam Richardson (@AdamRic39175807) May 27, 2021
Thousands of blues all on the booze because Man City are going to Porto🇵🇹
— Keiron (@Kswannick1) May 28, 2021