Thursday, 29 March 2007

manchester united

or, as everyone here will persist in calling them, il Manchester. I have tried to point out that they aren't called Manchester, and that indeed there's another club in that city. City, in fact. You know, I say, Manchester City? blu celeste? people look blank. Come on, everyone knows they're a MASSIVE club, no? Apparently not. Il Manchester means Man Utd.

SO I have safe in my purse my precious Roma-Man Utd ticket for next week (WOOOOOOO oh my god it's only next week I might not sleep between now and then). Having a season ticket means you can confirm your regular spot before the tickets go on general sale. When the general sale started on Tuesday people were queuing down the street at 4am (sale scheduled to start 10am). They had to open up early because the crowds were obstructing traffic. All seats, just shy of 50,000, sold out by about 4pm that afternoon.

Today, being quite possibly all about in the head, I went to the Olimpico to try to get a ticket for Man Utd-Roma. 62 fucking euros, you're having a laugh I thought, but I suppose that just shows how long I've been out of the UK. Tickets went on sale at 8am this morning. By 8pm last night over 2000 people were gathered outside the turnstyles. Some had been there since 10am, playing cards, reading the papers, having a kick-about, using the portaloos thoughtfully provided. A couple of policemen turned up about 5pm to keep an eye on things but there was no real need. I got there at about 6.30am, clearly being insufficiently insane.

So how did the queues work? well, they were run by the ultras. People arriving throughout Wednesday were each allocated a coloured scrap of paper bearing a number, with the colour relating to your time of arrival. Then groups were called forward by colour of card, and permitted to then queue at the actual turnstyle. Admittance to the stadium surrounds/ box office area was managed by club stewards, but the queuing system outside was run exclusively by the ultras. One chap (I think Guerrieri, head of the Fedayn) had a megaphone and was directing things in one part of the queue.

Meanwhile as I waited by a barrier, a large and frankly scary looking man marched over and demanded to speak with someone from the club. "Tell them Zappavigna is here and wants to talk about the ticket situation." A club official came scurrying moments later. Now, Paolo Zappavigna was the leader of the Boys until his untimely death in a motorbike accident a few years ago, but his brother(s) and/or cousin(s) are still running the show, so I can only assume that this was about Boys' tickets. Interestingly, though they'd got their own personal tickets sorted out early, these ultra leaders hung around for another 5 hours or so policing the crowd.

Now the club had announced that in line with the Amato regulations no blocks of tickets would be sold to groups as they always had been in the past. But it turns out the major groups had their own way of sorting things. Zappavigna had a fistful of pink tickets, a chap I think by sight is one of the leaders of the Ultras Romani had a bunch of green ones. The colour of slip you were given corresponded not only to when you had arrived, but to whether you belonged to a group and to which one. Everyone with a green or pink ticket got through and got their match ticket. Some (few) of the people with yellow or blue slips didn't. Sneaky.

However none of this would have been an issue if it weren't for the... interesting decision of the club. When tickets ran out, about 12.20pm, there were around 300 people still waiting, including yours truly. Which is more or less the number of our allocation the club has apparently kept back to give to local notables, second cousins of the physiotherapist, ex-players and their wives, etc. This has not been popular, shall we say. Still, I have nothing to moan about considering that there were people there who missed out on a ticket despite queuing through the night. "I'd like to see these local politicians come and freeze their balls off out here for 12 hours," was the considered view of the irate chap next to me, with scant regard for the balmy spring weather but bang on the money so far as the injustice goes. Meanwhile as we began to shamble off, the announcement having been made that the tickets were finished, one lad declined to move from his spot on the barrier. "Aò, ma che sta a fà?" asked his mate (what are you doing). "Mo c'ho preso la residenza!" (I've transferred my official residence here).

Anyway I've got my ticket for the home game, and that'll do me. And the queuing was interesting, (something I never thought I'd type) since I got to observe some interesting ultra/non-ultra dynamics. Let me tell you, the griping was something else.

In other news, Napoli's stadium has finally been given the go-ahead to at least partially reopen (57,000 or so) from this weekend. On Saturday is Roma-Milan, exciting game. And there's a new "safety" decree on the use of banners and striscioni which I shall be adressing, wrathfully, in another post.


Anonymous said...

So how did you get your ticket?
or did i miss something?

I lined up early for Roma-Real Madrid in 2002 at the turnstyles. What a joke. Spent all day between the stadium and tabacchi shops. In the end I bargained with the nearest "trusty" bargherino.
We lost 3-0. But it was worth it.

Anonymous said...

oops - (above posted by Aussie Romanista)

Spangly Princess said...

got my home ticket, as I say if you're a season ticket holder then you can buy your ticket before they go on general sale so you're guaranteed to be able to buy your normal home seat.

but didn't get an away ticket despite the 6 hours' queuing.