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Reds’ alarm at Turkish venue

Reds’ alarm at Turkish venue

Oct 2 2007

by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo

LIVERPOOL fans travelling to Istanbul later this month face a horrifying flashback to 1980s style football facilities.

Reds officials have already expressed concern at the conditions awaiting Liverpool fans in Besiktas for the Champions League clash on October 24.

These include:

A visiting supporters’ area enclosed by eight-foot high metal fences on three sides, with netting above.

Extremely poor views of the pitch.

Entry point to the stadium via a single file staircase up to the turnstiles.

Very basic toilet and refreshment facilities.

A disabled area for Liverpool fans is sited at the opposite end of the ground to the visiting supporters pen and situated among home supporters.

A party of Reds officials made a fact-finding visit to Besiktas’ stadium recently and were appalled by their findings.

They have raised their concerns with the home club but do not expect anything to change before the trip to Istanbul in three weeks.

Liverpool expect to receive 1,400 tickets for the match and a selling notice will be released shortly advising of the criteria to qualify for a ticket.

An Anfield spokesman said: “We brought this information to our fans’ attention because it’s going to take much longer to access the stadium than an English ground.

“Also, fans are going to have an extremely poor view of the game.

“We thought it better to flag this up in advance because it is quite a long way to travel.”

Les Lawson, secretary of the Merseyside branch of the Official Liverpool Supporters’ Club, said: “You would think UEFA would bring in a safety standard.

“The safety of spectators is paramount. If there is any possibility that a stadium is not safe, it should not be used.

“The club is right to raise concerns – let’s hope UEFA do something.”

Liverpool have played at the Ali Sami Yen Stadium in Istanbul, home of Galatasaray, and twice at the national Ataturk Stadium, but this will be their first visit to Besiktas.

According to Brazilian legend Pele, Besiktas’ BJK Inönü Stadium “has the most beautiful view of any stadium in the world” – because it is the only stadium from which a football supporter can view two continents, Europe and Asia, separated by the Bosphorus.

From the stands, home supporters can also see numerous tourist attractions like the Dolmabahçe Palace, Dolmabahçe Clock Tower, Dolmabahçe Mosque and the famous Kiz Kulesi (Maiden’s Tower).

Away fans, however, can’t even see the pitch clearly.

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