Hibs set for 5,000 mile Euro odyssey

THEY often sing about walking 500 miles in support of their team.

But Hibs fans face a slightly longer trip to follow their side in Europe this season as it was revealed the Easter Road club could travel to both ends of the continent in the early rounds of the Europa League.

Neil Lennon’s side will be hoping to avoid an upset when they make the 878-mile round trip to the Faroe Islands to face NSÍ Runavík in the first qualifying round, with the away leg to be played on Thursday, July 19.

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And the reward for the winner of that tie is a journey across Europe to face Greek side Asteras Tripolis, with the Hibees facing a round-journey of almost 4,000 miles should they make it through.

Neil Lennon's men may see both ends of the continent
Neil Lennon's men may see both ends of the continent

However, fans face a long and expensive journey to the Faroes for the first match, with flight prices between Edinburgh and the islands capital of Tórshavn exceeding £290 and travel times varying from just over an hour direct to an eight-hour round trip via Stockholm and Copenhagen.

Runavík finished fourth in the Faroe Islands Premier League last season and have already played 14 games of the new domestic campaign.

The tie is set to be played at the Svangaskarð stadium in Toftir, around 40 miles from Tórshavn as Runavík’s home ground does not comply with Uefa regulation.

Direct flights to the city – which has a population similar to that of Linlithgow – are available from Edinburgh Airport on the day of the game, but fans will have to wait until the next Monday for a direct return.

Ferry travel doesn’t make the journey any easier, with no routes between Scotland and the Faroes available, fans have a choice of travelling from Hirtshals in northern Denmark or Seydisfjordur in eastern Iceland – journeys of 38 and 19 hours respectively.

The club has encouraged fans to wait until full details of the match have been confirmed before booking travel to watch the match, with discussions among some supporters about potentially chartering a flight already under way. Ticket prices for the tie were confirmed yesterday afternoon, with briefs set to cost adults £23, or £32 for “executive seating” at the ground.

The potential trip to Greece should be more straightforward with the tie likely to take place at Asteras’ Theodoros Kolokotronis Stadium – a three-hour bus journey across the Corinth bridge from the capital Athens.

If Hibs make it through the first round, it will be their first trip to Greece for 17 years since the infamous encounter with AEK Athens back in 2001.

But fans could be priced out again, with the cheapest direct flights between Edinburgh and Athens starting at £398 on EasyJet.

Alternative flights via Amsterdam and Stockholm have proved significantly cheaper, coming in at around £280, but do involve long overnight layovers in both cities.

Fellow Scottish side Rangers drew Macedonian outfit FC Shkupi in the first qualifying round, with the prospect of a journey to Moldova or Croatia to face Petrocub or Osijek respectively should they progress.

However, Scottish Premiership runners-up Aberdeen, who enter directly into the second qualifying round, drew the standout tie as they face English club Burnley.