A party of Aston Villa fans are so keen to join their side in their first foray into Europe for years that they have taken the gamble of chartering a coach to Denmark for next month’s Intertoto tournament even though Villa’s opponents in the competition have yet to be confirmed.
Martin O’Neill’s men are due to enter the competition in the third round due to their English Premier status and will not even discover who they will play under the week before their July 19 away day first leg.
Northern Irish side Lisburn Distillery, Finnish side TPS Turku and Danish side Odense first have to play to see who will meet Villa and with little time to make preparations to be at the match, fans are gambling on the Danish side to win through.
The city of Odense – the third largest in Denmark is the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen and the supporters are hoping for a fairy-tale ending to their trip next month.
So far a single coach has been organised for the Scandinavian adventure but Steve Gough of Lichfield-based Premier Entertainments says he is prepared to charter another one should there be sufficient interest from supporters prepared to make the 17 hour journey by road and ferry to see O’Neill’s boys in action.
Gough said: “We do not even know who we will face yet but we are taking a gamble on it being Odense because they are the better side of the three and therefore the one we suspect most likely to win through to meet Villa.”
Odense play their football in the Danish Sas-Ligaen and finished fourth last season while Turku are having a poor run in their current campaign in the Finnish Premier Division – the Veikkausliiga. Lisburn entertain Turku in the opening fixture this weekend with the winner of that taking on the Danes.
Gough and his passengers will leave for Copenhagen on Thursday July 17 from Birmingham and will travel to Dover then by ferry to Calais before the long drive through Germany to Denmark.
But the seasoned travel organiser, who has followed Villa all over the world on European trips and in pre-season friendlies, says the trip is being gauged to keep it affordable for fans with flights around the time of the competition expected to reach astronomical prices.
He said: We ran a similar trip to Helsingborg when Villa met them in the competition and the drive is not too bad at all. We have allocated two nights accommodation in a hotel in Copenhagen on the Friday and Saturday and will then return on the Sunday.”
He said the price of £289 would include bed, breakfast, ferry and coach fares plus transfers to the match and said he was currently sourcing match tickets although they would be extra and would not be allocated until the game was confirmed.
He added: “We are currently taking deposits and, should the fixture change, we will give full refunds. It may also be possible to swiftly change the plans and arrange a trip to Finland if the results don’t go the way we expect but it would not be realistic to charter coaches there as it is far too long a journey.”
Fans interested can contact Premier Entertainments and Travel on 01543-426426.