An armed police escort will accompany Manchester United supporters travelling to Fenerbahce’s stadium on Thursday night, such is the concern surrounding security in Istanbul.
United have written to all supporters making the trip to Turkey for this week’s Europa League clash against Dick Advocaat’s side, warning them of potential safety problems.
The club abandoned their normal practice of tickets being distributed close to the away ground – posting them out instead – and firmly suggested their band of fans should stick together in Taksim Square before kick-off.
That is 10 miles away from Fenerbahce’s home and buses are being laid on with police escorts from 6pm.
The journey – which will pass over the Bosphorus river – is expected to take close to an hour. Buses will travel back to the city’s main square after the fixture.
Fans have also been told not to take public transport. Only last month, a bomb exploded at an Istanbul police station, injuring 10 people, and Turkey was recently the scene of an attempted military coup.
English football supporters have a history of enduring trouble when visiting the city. Eric Cantona and Bryan Robson were both struck when Sir Alex Ferguson’s United played Galatasaray in 1993.
Two Leeds United fans were stabbed to death before a UEFA Cup semi-final clash in 2000.
United ticket holders will enter the Sukru Saracoglu stadium in caged tunnels on Thursday as security chiefs attempt to keep the two sets of supporters away from each other.
Juan Mata is wary of the threat Turkey poses and said: “We know it is a difficult place to go, we know when you play in Turkey it is a difficult atmosphere, and we will have to deal with that.
“It will be very important to win there and if we do that then we will get very, very close to the qualification.”
- Daily Mail