With the Euros in France now just a few weeks away the London Forum has held its final fans’ travel forum of this campaign. While many of us will have visited France before it has been nearly 20 years since we followed England there at a major tournament. So this Forum focused on what we can expect in June - and on first hand advice on what we can do to make the most of our time there. John Sykes the Foreign Office’s ‘EURO 2016 Liaison Officer’ (responsible for the Welsh and Northern Irish as well) and Kevin Miles the Chief Executive of the Football Supporters Federation were invited to speak. John has been working with various fan groups, the French police and local government in the host cities. He confirmed that there will be consular staff based in the cities where England are playing - they can help with a range of problems. However, there are limits to what support is offered. For example, he did ask not be be called if you lose the keys to your hotel or forget the time your train departs. Yes - it has happened! He explained that all the grounds are within walking distance from the city centre. So travel to the ground should be easy. The French have not offered free travel on match day - but the host cities are used to handling large crowds so transport problems are unlikely. Lens will be the most challenging ground to go to - as it is expected that many ticketless fans will turn up to enjoy the atmosphere. Lens simply does not have the infrastructure (nor the bars) to cope. So if you wish to enjoy the Wales game, and you do not have a ticket, find a Fanzone elsewhere - go to Lille, or for that matter stay close to St Etienne or Marseilles and watch it there! John noted (notwithstanding the media at the time) that the French do not blame the English for the events in Marseilles in ’98 - and they are not focusing on the English support. There are plenty of local issues that they know they will need to manage. He explained that the nature of the Russian support that will turn up on the day is not clear - many wealthy Russians live in the south of France and there are no direct flights to Marseilles from Moscow. So don’t pay too much attention to the inevitable scare stores that will emerge. Finally, John mentioned that it would make sense to follow the advice on the ‘Be On The Ball’ website, click here to access it. Kevin explained that the FSF is an independent organisation that campaigns on behalf of its members ie football supporters, and that membership is free. Before each game there will be a new Free Lions magazine available. A full FSF Guide to Euro16 is about to be published. The FSF also offer assistance and should be considered as the first port of call before approaching the Consular team. The FSF will be able to direct you to where you can have your problem resolved - that is a tournament related problem. Check their website www.fsf.org.uk. It may be worth keeping their contact number in your phone. Kevin offered some very practical advice. The French police obviously will be concerned about over all security - and will be tense. So they may not have a great deal of patience if a minor ‘situation’ arises. For example, if you are drinking outside of a bar and start to block a street - then move on; simply do not look for a confrontation. If a confrontation begins between to police and local youth - then move on; do not get caught up in what could end up to be a very unpleasant situation. And do not engage in any Islamophobic behaviour - there will be minimal tolerance. Use commonsense. Furthermore, the security at the grounds will be tight. You will not be able to bring in a bag any larger than a lady’s handbag. If you needed to store a bag then head for the railway station and use the lockers there. Also check the UEFA website for the size of flags that will be permitted into the grounds. Kevin pointed out that it is a good idea to carry a laminate of your passport for ID; though unless you are drunk and behaving like an idiot you are unlikely to be asked to show it. There can be no doubt that entry in the grounds will be slow. The message is obvious : ARRIVE EARLY. Both Kevin and John made it clear that getting to the ground 2hours before kick off makes good sense - 30mins before kick off will create a problem that can be avoided. Finally, when we reach the Round of 16 you will need to collect your ticket in person! Something to look forward to...........
All of the grounds are within walking distance of the city centre ????? Not the recently constructed stadiums.
According to Google Maps, it would take 2:10 hours to walk from the centre of Lyon to the ground. More critically, it would take 2:10 hours to walk back starting at 11:00 at night.The centre of Nice to the stadium is 2:15 hours walk each way. Bordeaux is about 1:20 from the centre and Lille about 1:10. Depending on England's progress, we could play at any of these venues.
It's all very well to say that the host cities are used to dealing with large crowds. Most of the stadiums have large car parks which will allow many people to leave by car on club match days. But the UEFA EURO 2016 FAQs say that there will be no parking at the grounds during the tournament. Let's hope there is extensive provision of extra public transport for the out-of-town stadiums.
can't see many turning up to stadiums with no alcohol 2 hours before kick off!
The old stadium in Nice was definitely walkable from the city centre being about 1.5kms inland from the seafront. Walking to the new one is almost impossible as its situated beside a major dual carriageway on the the north west outskirts of the city, about 2km north of the airport.