Red tape, but no Red Square for family
PUBLISHED: 14:00 27 September 2001 | UPDATED: 10:34 03 March 2010
A DEVASTATED family of Ipswich Town fans are ripping up their tickets to the Torpedo Moscow game today - after a travel mix-up left their dream trip in tatters.
A DEVASTATED family of Ipswich Town fans are ripping up their tickets to the Torpedo Moscow game today – after a travel mix-up left their dream trip in tatters.
The Brasher family had their bags packed, wallets full of dollars and a guide book at the ready, and 11-year-old Kieran had proudly stood up in front of his class to tell them about his trip, when a last minute phone call brought it all to a crashing halt.
At 4.30pm yesterday – just hours before the four-strong party were due to leave home at 1am today to fly to Moscow – Kieran's mum Margaret was informed by tour operator Sports Travel Management that his Visa had not been received from the Russian Embassy.
She called her husband Brian and he contacted the company within an hour, but it was too late to get a Visa arranged.
Mr Brasher, 55, said he rang an emergency contact number for the firm, and was frustrated to find the member of staff who answered it was actually in Moscow with a mobile phone – on board the ITFC team coach!
He was told that although Kieran could technically fly out to Moscow, he would have to stay in the airport as the authorities would not let him in without a Visa.
He said: "I was assured there would be some compensation – the trip cost us £1,500 – but that's not the point. It was implied there had been problems with other people's bookings too.
"The club didn't know about this until I told them, and the time factor prevented them from being able to help. They have offered for Kieran to meet the players on Sunday at the Leeds match, but he was in tears when we told him what had happened."
Mrs Brasher, 49, said: "We couldn't have gone without Kieran, I wouldn't have enjoyed it. That would have been impossible."
She said they had made sure his name was on all the forms, and had checked to confirm he could travel on their passports.
In desperation, Mr Brasher of Cherry Blossom Close, Pinewood, spent last night trying to e-mail club chairman David Sheepshanks in a bid to get some help.
He said: "I don't blame the club at all – they have been very sympathetic and would have contacted the embassy if there had been more time.
"I think the tour operator could still have got us on a later flight if they'd tried, but I suppose that would have been too expensive for them."
George Dick, Managing Director of Sports Travel Management said:
"We are very very sorry – it's awful. We are trying to carry out an investigation into the reasons why this happened"
He said that the problem had come about as the Russians didn't issue a separate visa and seemed to have missed the boy's name as it was on his mother's passport.
He added that due to current increased security, airlines are extra strict about people travelling without the correct documentation.
Kieran, a pupil at St Matthews Primary School, had even bought a new European tour Tractor Boys scarf for the occasion, and had also been looking forward to meeting up with his brother Aaron Claxton a courier for ITFC, in the city's famous Red Square.
Their brother Nathan Claxton, 20, had also been scheduled to go.
But instead the whole family will have to grit their teeth and watch the game on TV – keeping their fingers crossed that the Blues win, so they can book a replacement trip in the future.