LONDON – Liverpool's mayor said his bid to get stranded football fans to Kiev for the Champions League final against Real Madrid failed on Friday after he was unable to find crew for back-up planes.
“We regret to say that we have been unable to achieve a resolution that will satisfy everyone. We now must accept the fact that some fans who have tickets may not be able to make the game,” said Mayor Joe Anderson in a statement.
“Our hearts go out to all those who will undoubtedly be left bitterly disappointed by this turn of events.”
Hugely disappointed that our efforts to sort #LFC fan flights has not worked @Vitaliy_Klychko & airport directors did all possible with landing slots and planes but not able to get over the line. Frustrated by utter shambles faced by loyal fans
Hundreds of supporters are now expected to miss the showpiece match in Ukraine on Saturday after operator Worldchoice Sports cancelled three flights because it did not have sufficient landing slots at Boryspil Airport.
Anderson initially said he was working with Kiev's mayor, former world heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko, to find a solution for all those who faced missing out.
He posted several messages on Twitter on Thursday and Friday which gave hope to fans. Anderson said he had secured replacement landing slots and was trying to find a solution to the fiasco by organising a new carrier to provide flights from John Lennon airport.
He said he was eventually able to secure the aircraft, but could not locate a suitable crew.
“We are hugely disappointed and frustrated at the utter shambles loyal fans have been put through. UEFA and the companies involved will have questions to answer,” he added in his statement.
No final decision yet but really not looking good - unable to resolve flight situation. With support of @Vitaliy_Klychko #Kiev airport & carrier we had plane & landing slot but crew were coming from USA and crew rest time huge barrier. Time against us
Liverpool announced on Friday that anyone who had bought match tickets directly from the club who was due to be on one of the cancelled flights would be able to claim a refund.
“Supporters who were booked on flight numbers ET8704 and ET8706, and those who were unable to travel on the rearranged ET8700 flight booked through Worldchoice Sports, will be able to claim the refund,” the club said on their website.
Worldchoice Sports publicly apologised to fans in a statement on Twitter.
Financial adviser Jason McGimpsey was told on Thursday his flight was cancelled.
He told Britain's Press Association: “Worldchoice Sports had been stalling on giving us e-tickets and exact departure times and it's become clear why that was th case, now finally they've said 'we've cancelled it'.
“I've been offered a refund but it doesn't go anywhere near compensating me for what I've lost,” he added.
Chris Bolland, who has supported Liverpool for 50 years, will have to watch the game from home.
“I am gutted, to say the least. I am absolutely disgusted and there is nothing I can do about it,” he told the BBC.
“I will now have to watch it with my dear wife -- but that's not a problem as she's a big Liverpool fan as well.”