Travelling Aberdeen fans are set be bused to PAOK’s Toumba Stadium THREE-AND-A-HALF HOURS before Thursday’s 7.45pm kick-off in Greece.
Around 800 members of the Red Army are making their way to sun-kissed Thessaloniki for the Europa Conference League Group G game later in the week.
In advice issued by Aberdeen, Dons fans have been asked to gather in Thessaloniki’s central Aristotelous Square by 3.45pm on match-day, in a process said to be aimed at ensuring “the safety of all supporters”.
Fans have then been urged to make the 1.2km journey west to the nearby port for 4.15pm – where 16 coaches put on by Aberdeen will be waiting to take the visiting support across the city to PAOK’s ground.
Reds fans have been warned to expect full police searches before they are allowed to board the buses to Toumba Stadium.
And they are set to face a significant wait between leaving the port and the Conference League clash between the Dons and hosts PAOK kicking off, with some of the buses set to depart for the ground 3.9km (2.5 miles) away more than three hours before the start of the game.
The club statement said: “All AFC supporters will leave the port area between 2.5-3.5 hours before kick-off.
“This is a requirement of local police as they shut streets off around the stadium to allow safe arrival of both teams and away supporters.”
Aberdeen have told their fans to avoid taking taxis or using alternative modes of transport to get to the game, adding: “Taxis are not recommended as they may not be able to get close to the stadium, and walking in the area of the stadium and areas away from the square and port should be avoided, especially with club colours on.”
Police Scotland representatives will be present, as will Aberdeen stewards, during the process of getting Reds fans to and from Toumba Stadium.
Aberdeen fans will be held back after PAOK game for as-yet-unclear length of time
Dons supporters have also been warned they face being held back for a yet-to-be-determined period after the full-time whistle, before they will be bused back to the centre of Thessaloniki.
The Red Army have also been encouraged to gather in Aristotelous Square following their return from the match.
Dons warn travelling Red Army over pyro and ‘offensive’ flags
Aberdeen’s advice confirmed no alcohol will be served at PAOK v Aberdeen.
Despite the ferocious reputation of Toumba Stadium and the atmosphere created by the PAOK home fans – the Reds have once again pleaded with their supporters to avoid bad behaviour which could lead to Uefa sanctions and fines, as well as criminal consequences for Dons fans involved.
Aberdeen have already been fined by European football’s governing body after several of this season’s continental clashes – including after the 2-1 Conference League defeat at German side Eintracht Frankfurt, where a flare was thrown into a section housing home fans during play.
The Dons warned their travelling supporters heading to Thessaloniki over pyrotechnics, the throwing of objects, pitch invasions and flags “of an offensive nature”.
On pyro, they said: “Please protect each other and the club.
“Uefa will fine any club who use pyrotechnics and the fines increase each time.
“Anybody caught in possession of any pyrotechnics either entering the ground or within the stadium seating decks will face an indefinite ban from the club and could also face criminal proceedings.”
Aberdeen added: “Flags of an offensive nature will not be permitted, and clubs can face sanctions if this is detected.
“Please be mindful of the political issues worldwide.”
Section leaders PAOK host Aberdeen in the fourth round of Europa Conference League Group G fixtures two weeks after they came back from two goals down late on to deliver a devastating 3-2 Pittodrie defeat to the Dons and maintain their 100% record.
The Reds, meanwhile, have taken just one point from their three matches in the group so far and need to win in Greece to keep any hopes of progress to the knock-out rounds alive.