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England fans in ‘Dash to Dortmund’ as 40,000 scramble for tickets being sold for up to £17,000

Fans of England celebrate the quarter-final win over Switzerland

The UK could witness its biggest last-minute exodus of football fans to a major tournament on Tuesday with up to 40,000 tipped to dash to Dortmund for England’s European Championship semi-final against the Netherlands.

Supporters desperate to celebrate the Three Lions reaching their first final of a World Cup or Euros on foreign soil are expected to flock to Germany ahead of Wednesday night’s historic showdown, following Saturday’s quarter-final penalty shoot-out victory against Switzerland.

Return flights to nearby Dusseldorf were still available on Monday that would arrive in time for the 8pm kick-off but at a cost in excess of £800, while fans were still scrambling for tickets that were being sold for up to £17,000.

Most will travel in hope rather than expectation of getting into Wednesday’s game but will still be able to soak up the atmosphere in Germany and congregate to watch on giant screens erected at the various fan parks across the region.

Many would have booked flights within minutes of Saturday’s nail-biting win over Switzerland, while others could elect to make the 350-mile trip in campervans.

With an estimated 40,000 England fans already in Germany, a doubling of that number would see them match the 80,000 Netherlands supporters to make the short trip across the border.

Veterans of previous tournaments forecast the sudden exodus from the UK would dwarf the estimated 5,000 fans who famously rushed to the 1990 World Cup semi-final, when many drove 24 hours to Turin, and the similar number of supporters who dashed to the 2018 semi-final in Russia, where high costs and visa entry requirements prevented many more travelling.

Mark Knapper, 65, from Hertfordshire, who has attended almost every England game for the last 25 years, said: “Up to 40,000 England fans will rush out for the semi. It will be our biggest last-minute rush to a tournament. Dortmund is easy to get to and the atmosphere is amazing.”

Simon Harris, a long-standing member of the England Supporters Travel Club and a Conservative member of Shropshire Council, added: “Why wouldn’t you go? Russia and Qatar were expensive, and Covid ruined Euro 2020.”

Thomas Concannon of the Free Lions Fans’ Embassy, which provides travel and other advice to England supporters out in Germany, said: “More fans are going out for the semi and there will be a good total of England fans there. Germany is much more accessible than recent tournaments.”

Were England to reach the final, they face ticket prices that had as of Monday already hit more than £25,000 for a pair.

Resale site ticombo,com, selling 1,615 tickets to the final, was charging between £3,020 and £25,376 for two seats worth £80-£850 at face value.

Tournament organiser Uefa said: “We urge fans not to purchase tickets on the secondary market.”

Plans for London screening event if England get to final

The Football Association would get just 10,000 official tickets for the final at Berlin’s 75,000-capacity Olympiastadion were England to get there.

Back in the UK, plans are already being looked at to put on a fan screening in London in the event that Gareth Southgate’s side reach Sunday’s final, but no additional events will be laid on for Wednesday’s encounter.

A spokesman for the Mayor of London said: “The whole country is so proud of the England squad for making it to the semi-finals in what has been an edge-of-your-seat tournament and the Mayor can’t wait to cheer them on against the Netherlands.

“Official Fan Zones are only created when London is a host city for the tournament, as was the case for the men’s Euro 2020 and women’s Euro 2022.

“The GLA is exploring the possibility of a screening of the final, should England progress.”

Breweries were rushing an estimated extra 50 million pints of beer to pubs in what could be their most lucrative midweek since the 2018 World Cup semi-finals after coronavirus restrictions prevented them fully cashing in on the team’s run to the Euro 2020 final.

A bonanza of up to £250 million from food and drink sales would provide a welcome boost to the industry and British Beer and Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “Breweries are busy sending extra deliveries to pubs so they are stocked for such a crucial midweek match. I urge everyone to get down their local to cheer on the England team.”