Fans pay price as touts charge over £2,000

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Tickets for the European Cup final between Arsenal and Barcelona were changing hands at more than 20 times their face value last night, with touts charging more than £1,700 for £82 tickets.

More than 100 touts - the vast majority from England - were buying and selling tickets along the Champs-Elysées as fans gathered ahead of the final at the Stade de France.

Although outlawed from announcing that they were selling, many touts held up cards in English, French and Spanish offering to buy tickets. One tout with three side-by-side tickets was asking £6,800 for them.

About 77,500 fans were expected to be in the stadium, including 20,000 each from Arsenal and Barcelona, but many of the tickets appeared to be have found their way on to the black market after being sold privately over the internet.

Uefa issued a warning that it will not allow the "abusive and uncontrolled" selling of tickets over the internet and that it will cancel tickets sold in that way. That meant that those fans paying thousands of pounds to touts ran the risk of finding themselves turned away and their dreams shattered, at the gates to the stadium before kick-off.

Many fans arrived without a ticket and were happy to pay big prices. Jeremy Lines, an Arsenal fan from Maidstone, Kent, said he had heard there were plenty of tickets for sale on the streets of Paris.

"The word got round that there was no need to worry if we couldn't get a ticket back home," he said. "But, even if it costs too much to buy one off a tout, we can always watch the game on television and enjoy the experience of being in Paris for the game.

"This is a big piece of history for Arsenal and, just to be here is something special. I don't mind paying up to £200 for a ticket but I'm certainly not going to pay the silly money."