Champions League Final: London Pubs Brace for the German Invasion
With tens of thousands of German football fans expected in London for the all-German Champions League final on Saturday, pubs in the English capital are anxiously preparing. Officials have urged fans without tickets to stay home and the city has opted to forgo public viewing areas.
Forget trying to reserve a table in a London pub to watch Saturday's Champions League final in Wembley between Germany's top two teams, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. In the handful of German-owned establishments, free seats are almost impossible to come by.
"We've been fully booked since the semi-finals," said Sabine von Reth, the owner of the Bavarian Beerhouse in London. She says her two pubs can accommodate a total of 750 people, and that she expects two thirds of them to be Bayern Munich fans on the big night. "The onslaught is comparable with the 2006 World Cup," she said.
Bierschenke, a beer cellar near the London School of Economics, is even opening two additional pubs just for the final. Owner Oliver Heller has rented the King's Cross Social Club and the "HMS President," a party ship moored on the Thames. He aims to lure Bayern fans onto the ship by offering Augustiner beer, one of Munich's best-known brews. His other pub will offer Dortmund's DAB beer for Dortmund fans. "I could have got the place full three times over," said Heller.
It's hard to say how many German fans will end up making the trip to London. Each side has 23,000 tickets for Wembley. They were sold almost immediately. The London police expect several thousand fans to turn up without tickets: some 500 from Munich and up to 5,000 from Dortmund. But those estimates seem pretty conservative given the huge interest in the match in Germany.
No Public Viewing Screens in London
Scotland Yard is urging fans to stay at home if they don't have tickets. "Go to the public viewing events in Munich or Dortmund," said Colin Morgan of the Metropolitan Police. London has deliberately refrained from putting up big public screens because it doesn't want to attract fans.
Morgan warned fans against pinning their hopes on finding tickets on the black market. He said it was illegal and there were many crooks around and that he didn't want any German fans to be arrested in London. Fans who come to London without a ticket will run the risk of spending the evening in front of an ordinary TV in a pub -- drinking bad beer, said Morgan. "If they manage to get in a pub."
But it should be possible to find somewhere to stand. After all, there's no shortage of bars in London. And given the absence of a British team in the final, local interest in the match is likely to be limited. "If an English team were playing, it would definitely be full," said Vincent, manager of the Famous 3 Kings pub in West Kensington. As this will be a German-only final, he's not sure how packed it will be. But he said he had received a lot of enquiries from Germany. The sports bar with 350 seats will show the match on three large screens and 10 TVs -- in German and English.
"I expect some 3,000 guys will try to get in," said Jürgen Männel, manager of the German pub Zeitgeist in London. He's got room for 500. Many are likely to turn up in the morning for breakfast and then just stay there all day until the match, he said. They won't be served alcohol until midday, though. "It's going to be a really hard day," said Männel.
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