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England fans must collect Russia tickets in Moscow

England supporters travelling to Russia for England's vital European Championship qualifying match a week tomorrow may be forced to pick up their tickets in Moscow from the British Embassy after the FA said yesterday that there is insufficient time to guarantee delivery because of the postal strike that began last week, says The Times.

The tickets arrived at Soho Square yesterday, delayed while a dispute over whether the Russian FA could charge export tax was settled. Industrial action at the Royal Mail meant that the FA was reluctant to post the tickets. Visa applications from the Russian Embassy have also been held up by the strike and officials have advised fans to go to the embassy to guarantee receiving the necessary documentation to travel.

In the region of 4,250 official fans are expected to travel to Moscow, while a small number will make their way independently. The cost of travelling, ticket prices (set at £50 and £60) and the possibility of trouble with Russian ultra-nationalists has dissuaded many fans from making the trip.

Supporters were notified by the FA to collect tickets from the embassy on the eve, or day, of the match. Tickets can also be collected at the stadium from two hours before kick-off. The FA is also hoping to give out tickets on aircraft taking fans to Moscow and after the match against Estonia at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, although there could be logistical problems.

The Football Supporters' Federation has advised fans not to carry flags. "They are often seen as provocative symbols," it told fans. "Even the Russian flag can be flown by private individuals only on public holidays, and under Russian law more than three people congregating around a flag constitutes an illegal demonstration. There is particular sensitivity around state and public buildings - attaching a flag to the railings of such premises could cause a major incident.

The situation with England flags is further complicated by the fact that our flag is the same as that of Georgia, a state whose relationship with Russia has been fraught in recent years."

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Tribal Football Staff

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