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West Ham fans are off to the Balkans for Thursday's clash with TSC Backa Topola in the Europa League, knowing that a win is well within the side's grasp, which would secure their passage to the knockout phase of the tournament as well as put them in pole position to top Group A.
This trip, for the team and fans, is something of the unknown and off the beaten track in provincial Serbia against a side that is not used to competing on the European stage. Still, they will be fired up for the visit of the Europa Conference League champions and a traditional English club.
Here is all you need to know for West Ham fans in Serbia.
How many West Ham fans are going to Backa Topola, Serbia
With a small allocation of just 320 tickets, few West Ham fans will travel for this Euro away day compared to the majority of games over the last few years.
West Ham fans were banned from the away fixture in Freiburg, then they were in attendance for the Group A fixture against Olympiacos but this game in Serbia will appeal to intrepid travellers. One for those who like something different off the beaten track but unfortunately, only a select few who met the requirements for a ticket will go.
It is very unlikely that many West Ham fans above the 320 with a ticket will travel to the game, due to the small stadium as well as the relatively remote location of Backa Topola, around 95 miles away from Belgrade, the capital of Serbia.
🇷🇸And before we indulge in a beautiful Serbian Superliga match, let's take a minute to appreciate the supreme awesomeness of Bačka Topola's TSC Arena.
Relevant size, incredible design, away section that isn't a cage… What an absolute belter!❤️
🗒️Others, please take notes! pic.twitter.com/4ihMu98K2s
— Ekstratime (@Ekstratime_) March 7, 2023
Where do the West Ham fans sit in the TSC Arena
The small away section, surrounded by a tall metal fence, is situated in the far left corner of the stadium as you look from the main stand.
In this modern, compact 4500-capacity stadium, a full-house is expected for the visit of West Ham in this glamour Europa League clash for the hosts, but unfortunately, it will be their last game in the tournament as they have just one point going into Matchday 5.
An unlikely turnaround could see them take over Olympiacos in third place in Group A, which would mean the parachute benefit of falling into the Europa Conference League, but that is very much against the odds at this stage.
Full fans’ matchday guide for Backa Topola vs West Ham
Given the unique setting for this fixture, it could be better logistically for West Ham fans to stay in Belgrade and head north only for the game.
Official information from the club website has indicated that at least one organised bus will depart from the Serbian capital with more available, depending on demand.
There is unlikely to be a plethora of options for eating and drinking in Backa Topola compared to Belgrade, so there is the practical aspect of being closer to the airport for getting in and out.
Additionally, there is a safety aspect to think of for this fixture. With such a small number of travelling fans, it will be better to stay in bigger groups, as is the case for many Euro away days.
Where to eat & drink for West Ham fans in Serbia
Taking into account the information above, further details are expected from West Ham on advice for supporters for matchday in Serbia, whether it is Belgrade or in Backa Topola.
Football Ground Guide will aim to update this piece later in the upcoming week ahead of matchday.
Ticket collection info for West Ham fans in Serbia
For the 320 Hammers who secured a ticket for the game, the information from the club has been clear.
Once the purchasing process has been followed, including submitting a European Travel Form, match tickets will be distributed via email in the form of a Print-at-Home ticket or in a downloadable format, with further instructions to follow.
This will be sent directly to those allocated a ticket amongst the Bondholders, Away Scheme Members and Season Ticket Holders with 50+ Loyalty Points.
How to get to the TSC Arena: Guide for West Ham fans in Backa Topola, Serbia
Usually, we would advise on public transport to get to the stadium on matchday, but for West Ham fans in Serbia, this is likely to be an exception.
From the small Backa Topola train station, it is around a mile and a half (2.3km) to the TSC Arena. However, security and safety measures are likely to mean buses and police escorts to the stadium for West Ham supporters.
As stated previously in this article, the club is liaising to provide coaches from Belgrade with further consultation to follow in the build-up to matchday in Serbia for this Europa League clash.