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Newcastle United – The Riga Connection

8 years ago
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In so many ways Newcastle United couldn’t have picked a madder club to draw than Anzhi Makhachkala of Russia.

The club were only formed in 1991 and have come to prominence due to Billionaire Suleyman Kerimov buying them and paying eyewatering sums to attract the likes of Roberto Carlos (now retired) and Samuel Eto’o to come and play for them.

The other factor to put the club in the headlines was that it was so dangerous in the Dagestan region where the club is based, that the players couldn’t live there and were instead based in Moscow and only flew in for home matches.

That has now gone up another level with the club forced to play their ‘home’ Europa League matches in Moscow, the last one against Hannover having a reported attendance of 12,000.

However, home advantage can only count for so much when you are playing over a thousand miles from where your club and fans are based.

To put it into perspective, a quick Google and you find out that a thousand miles from Newcastle takes you to Riga in Latvia!

If we had to play home matches over there I don’t think you’d be seeing a travelling army, so exactly who ‘made up’ that crowd of twelve thousand is a puzzle, especially as Anzhi are hated in the Russian capital.

It may be slightly further for Newcastle fans to travel than their Anzhi counterparts, 1514 miles compared to 1000, but for their fans it must feel just about as foreign as it will do for the small group of United supporters who will make it over there.

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