Soccer-Seville ready to host thousands of fans ahead of Europa League final

SEVILLE (Reuters) - It looked like a regular busy Monday afternoon in sunny Seville, with tourists crowding the streets like they normally do in a city that is one of Europe's top destinations.

But unlike most days of the year, thousands of football fans clad in either blue or black jerseys could be seen packed into the bars and restaurants.

Thousands of Rangers and Eintracht Frankfurt fans made their presence felt in southern Spain's largest city ahead of Wednesday's Europa League final.

Local authorities expect around 100,000 fans to turn up in the city, with the majority arriving without tickets for the big game. The two finalists were allocated only 10,000 tickets each for the showpiece match at 42,000 capacity Pizjuan Stadium.

Rangers, beaten in the 2008 Europa League final by Zenit St Petersburg, are hoping to win their first European silverware in 50 years following their success in the now-defunct Cup Winners' Cup in 1972.

Eintracht Frankfurt are bidding to end their 42-year barren run in Europe, having won the Europa League when it was called the UEFA Cup in 1980.

"I'm hoping to get a ticket for 1,500 pounds ($1,850)," Greg Coote, an excited Rangers fan, told Reuters on Monday.

He arrived from Glasgow on Sunday after stops in Newcastle and Faro before finally getting to Seville.

"I was lucky because I booked my trip before the semi-finals. But people are really struggling to find a way to get here and go back home."

Coote said he was sharing an apartment with three friends for 1,600 pounds for four nights. A quick search for a room in Seville for Tuesday or Wednesday showed prices going from 650-1,500 euros ($678-$1,565) for a night in a three-star hotel.

Seville City Council anticipates full hotel occupancy with an economic impact at around 60 million euros for the city.

More than 5,500 police officers will be guarding the streets, while a fan-zone at Plaza de Espana will be able to hold just 4,000 people.

To avoid confrontations, the two fan bases will be kept apart in two separate areas 5.5km apart.

($1 = 0.8120 pounds)

($1 = 0.9587 euros)

(Reporting by Fernando Kallas)

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