Sprint from Wembley to Paris for one England fan

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The Independent Online

Sports fans looking forward to watching the England rugby and football teams battle it out for national pride on their televisions should consider the day in store for John Downs. The financier from Cheshire will be watching England take on Estonia in the crucial Euro 2008 football qualifier at Wembley.

Then – hopefully with the sound of the home crowd still singing victoriously in his ears – he will be heading up the M1 on a limobike to Luton to board a private jet for Paris in time to see the England rugby team try to grind out a victory against Les Bleus in the first semi-final of the rugby World Cup at the Stade de France. Gavin Copus, of Air Charter Service, which is organising Mr Downs' travel arrangements, said well-off clients were increasingly turning to private jets, costing upwards up £10,000, to avoid the "zoo" of scheduled travel.

Meanwhile, a vast army of rugby fans is making its way across the Channel on scheduled planes, boats or trains. By yesterday evening all British Airways flights to Paris were full, while Eurostar's Waterloo to Gare du Nord service is carrying 28,000 passengers – up by 40 per cent on normal traffic . P&O said its Dover-Calais ferry bookings were up 15 per cent.

Millions of fans will, however have to content themselves with watching on television. Pubs expect to serve an extra nine million customers and supermarkets were expecting weekend beer sales to double as fans prepare for the matches.

Bookmakers also anticipate their busiest weekend of the year. Ladbrokes expects an avalanche of patriotic bets by soccer, rugby and also cricket fans as the England XI play Sri Lanka this weekend. The odds on all three national sides winning are 8/1.

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