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Greek island offered refuge for Reds fans

by James Mulligan

AGISTRI, Greece — Agistri proved to be one of the more unlikely party venues for Liverpool fans ahead of the Champions League final in Athens — the Greek island is a 50-minute catamaran ride from the center of the host city.

James Mulligan

But with reports of up to 70,000 Liverpool fans descending on Athens for Wednesday’s final, hordes of supporters took solace — and available hotel rooms — in the island just a short boat ride southwest from the main port of Piraeus.

There was still room at the inn for unannounced guests arriving at Hotel Milos as late as Tuesday afternoon, with the normal rate of 40 euro (6,500 yen yen) a night still in effect.

Prices for equivalent, and available, 3-star accommodation in the center of the capital last week had been hiked up to 305 euro (50,000 yen) a night.

Anyone fancying 5-star with all the trimmings in Athens may have had to re-mortgage the house for a room, but the upmarket hotels also were overflowing.

At the other end of the scale, there were sightings of a few tents pitched in and around the town.

Reds fans staying at Milos needed all the extra cash they could get. Not only had they made a proper holiday of it and been on the island a few days already, the supporters, from Liverpool but also Dubai, Austria, America, jumped in the early boat to Athens on Tuesday in search of elusive tickets.

News photoLiverpool fans watch Wednesday night’s Champions League final against AC Milan from a bar in the city center.
AP PHOTO

Some had been lucky, others not so. Even the ones with smiles on their faces shook their heads at the prices they had to go to.

One lucky punter — depending on how you look at it — spent 4,000 euro (650,000 yen) on a ticket. Top whack in the capital reached an eye-watering 6,000 euro, reports said.

To some, the match was that important.

Others had the Greek Gods shining down on them.

A Swedish couple — who lucked out with a room despite arriving at the hotel without reservations — said they had won their final tickets in a competition just days before.

For the ones still without tickets on Tuesday night, they faced another agonizing day searching high and low Wednesday, hoping to strike lucky by nightfall.

Whether they did or not, the fans made the trip to the capital on match day and so were forced to wait for the 7:30 a.m. boat — the first of the day — back to the island after the game. Not so bad if Liverpool had won, agony in defeat.

But as Tuesday evening became Wednesday morning, any worries, whether over tickets, results or travel plans were as distant as Athens appeared on the horizon across the Aegean Sea, as the alcohol flowed freely for yet another night on the island of Agistri.