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EXCLUSIVE: Furious England fans left STRANDED after travel operator cancels their trip to Naples for the Euro 2024 qualifier against Italy at the last-minute… with the violence in the city before Napoli’s clash with Frankfurt blamed for the decision
- England kick off their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign against Italy on Thursday
- Travelling Three Lions fans have been left in the lurch just days before the match
- Around two and a half thousand England fans are thought to have been let down
Furious England fans have been left stranded after the FA’s official travel partner cancelled their trip to Naples just days before Gareth Southgate’s side face Italy in a repeat of the EURO 2020 final.
About 2,500 England supporters were expected to travel to face Italy in their European Championship qualifier on Thursday night in a city already on high alert after shocking scenes last week of Eintracht Frankfurt fans clashing with police – with many now set to miss out.
Travel company Sportsworld sent an email to supporters late on Friday night to confirm all arrangements had been scrapped.
Sportsworld blamed the violence in Naples as a factor in the decision though it’s understood uncertainty from Italian authorities over return flights was the main reason for the chaos.
‘It is our policy never to cancel any trips, no matter the reason, but we unfortunately have no choice at this late stage,’ supporters were told in an email seen by The Mail on Sunday.
Thousands of irate England fans have been left stranded by the FA’s official travel partner, who cancelled their trip to Naples just days before Gareth Southgate’s side faced off against Italy
The travel operator blamed the chaos in Naples last week for the decision – after hundreds of Napoli and Eintracht Frankfurt supporters clashed ahead of their Champions League match
‘We have been planning this trip for months, but the events in Naples this week have certainly impacted the situation.’
‘We understand you may be angry and will feel let down at this news. We are also truly disheartened with the outcome and apologise for the inconvenience this has caused.’
England fans branded the decision a ‘disgrace’ and urged the FA to sack Sportsworld as an official travel partner as they are now left scrambling to make their own last-minute travel arrangements.
Sportsworld emailed on Friday afternoon the 178 supporters who had booked with them to say they had not been able to confirm a return flight time from Naples nor provide a clear transport plan during the day and asked if fans wished them to find alternative arrangements or cancel the trip.
Despite nearly 70 per cent of responses urging Sportsworld to proceed with finding travel arrangements, the company sent a further email at just after 8pm to confirm the trip was cancelled.
Sportsworld told fans they will refund the total cost of the booked trip, in excess of £350, plus an additional £41 per person, believed to be the cost of the match ticket.
Police cars and other vehicles were set alight – with windows broken up and down the street
Yet some England fans are still out of pocket. Alan Houghton told The Mail on Sunday he was ‘annoyed and frustrated’ and now will not be travelling. He has had to cancel a £60 hotel room at Gatwick airport booked separately for the night before the flight to Naples with no hope of a refund.
Houghton had originally booked travel with a different company called Sports Options only for them to cancel plans three weeks ago because Italian authorities could not make a decision on return flights.
Sportsworld did not respond to a request for comment on why it took them so long to make their decision.
‘Cancelling the travel for the Italy v England game in Naples with just five days notice – what a disgrace,’ said one irate fan on Twitter. ‘Won’t be using your company again and the FA should pull your official travel partner status.’