Coronavirus: Man Utd fans out of pocket after Austria ’empty stadium’ ruling

LASK's Linzer StadionImage copyright
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Austrian side LASK’s Linzer Stadion has a capacity of about 21,000

About 900 Manchester United fans with tickets to see their team play in Austria on Thursday are likely to be left hundreds of pounds out of pocket.

Due to coronavirus fears, their Europa League last-16 tie against LASK Linz will be played in an empty stadium.

While match tickets will be refunded, fans are unlikely to recover the costs of their travel and accommodation.

This is because Austria is not on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s list of destinations to avoid.

“Our experts have said that this is not something that would be typically covered by a travel insurance policy as it is only the spectator aspect of the trip that cannot go ahead,” said a British Insurance Brokers’ Association spokesman.

“They have suggested that if a tour operator was used they may refund parts of the trip.”

‘Not an option’

The Austrian government has banned all events with more than 500 people.

LASK’s Linzer Stadion holds about 21,000 fans and is situated about 115 miles (185km) from the capital Vienna.

“We would recommend that you seek reimbursement of your travel from your travel or insurance provider,” said a statement on Manchester United’s website. “Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience this will cause.”

Most United fans were planning to fly into Vienna on Wednesday and Thursday and then make their own way to Linz. Some are still intending to make the trip.

Samy Ali, whose away trips include the 2008 Champions League final in Moscow, is among them. He plans to watch the game in a Linz bar.

“I think the match should be postponed or cancelled as I know many fans who cannot get a refund via travel insurance,” he said. “Coronavirus will be in the back of my mind but I’ll take my chances.”

Former United defender Gary Neville agrees that the game should be postponed, saying: “Playing behind closed doors is not an option IMO.

“If it’s necessary to shut down stadiums, the associations must find a way of delaying the season and playing the games when it is safe to do so to protect the revenues for clubs that require this income to survive.”

BBC News

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