Gouging, volcanos, and a migrating Guus
Today begins a series of postcards sent from London, where the FOX team will bring you the Champions League final live this Saturday (TV: FOX, 2 P.M. ET).
We've run a series of these for every major event - you might recall them from the past two World Cups - and these are basically personal impressions focusing on the silly stuff around the tournament. Sometimes they'll be about soccer; sometimes they won't. Leave us your comments and moreover, tell me what you'd like to hear about.
London gouging: Not for the thin of wallet.
So far, I've seen little evidence of anyone making the way over from America for this match. In fact, Monday's night flight from Chicago, where I reside, was the least crowded transcontinental flight I'd been on in a decade. The Great Recession would be my guess as to why. That said, even with both teams' massive popularity in the States, this doesn't seem to be an event that as yet is attracting Americans in much the same way a World Cup does.
Costs are surely a factor: Tickets for the final are already selling on the secondary market for close to $3,000, and a decent flight across the pond costs another $1,200 or so. London is also hellishly expensive, eclipsing New York for sheer gouging. The dollar is also currently quite weak against the pound (at about 1.7 per), making this an expensive trip for any American fan (this is the point where I should thank my bosses for my expense account). In years past, my trusty partner would have come along with me and spent her time wandering around the bookstores and museums while I watched men run about in shorts. Not this time: it's just too dear.
Icelandic volcano reaks havoc on air travel. Part II.
Today's big story is of course about Mr. Ryan Giggs (you can see my accompanying piece on that here). But there's another story that is threatening to overshadow the tournament, and it has nothing to do with reality television.
There's a volcano erupting in Iceland (yes, again), and as a result, flights to the UK have already begun to be cancelled. It's unclear on how much effect Grimsvotn will have on travel, but the president was taking no chances, coming in early yesterday to get under the ash cloud. Barcelona may be affected as well: they are scheduled to have a training camp today at Camp Nou and travel on Thursday but may now have to move that up to as early as today. (Editor's note: This has since happened.)
More likely to be affected are the thousands of Barcelona fans, some 12,000 of whom are estimated to be coming in on the day of the game. Forecasts are unclear, but airlines have cancelled flights already this morning and the ash cloud is expected to fully cover the British Isles on Thursday. If those fans cannot make it, will those tickets make their way to the secondary market? I wonder.
Murmurs of Guus
The other big story making the rounds this morning is that Guus Hiddink may be making his return to Stamford Bridge. Carlo Ancelotti was unceremoniously sacked in the tunnel on Sunday following Chelsea's trophy-less season, a rather callous end to a career that saw him win two pieces of silverware in his first year with the club. Ancelotti had been a dead man walking since winter after his club started strong and then proceeded to do a swan dive.
Of course, were every manager whose club crashed and burned to be sacked, there'd be a lot more openings. Birmingham are said to retain Ally McLeish for another season and Arsenal will keep Arsene Wenger despite his lack of hardware in the past six years. One last note on Wenger: he will be cleaning house with Andrei Arshavin, Nicklas Bentdner and Cesc Fabregas all said to be heading to the exit. Fabregas didn't even attend the final game, choosing instead to watch the Spanish Grand Prix.
Tomorrow, I'll be out and about London, visiting some old haunts and arranging some visits to film various stadiums (you'll see the end result of that later on) and seeing if I can still fit into a paddle boat at Regent's Park. Photos of all this will be posted on our Twitter feeds (@FOXSoccer and @jamietrecker) and I'll post a gallery as soon as possible on my Facebook page.
Jamie Trecker is a senior writer for FoxSoccer.com covering the UEFA Champions League and the Barclay's Premier League.