More than 96,000 people have applied for tickets to see FC Barcelona take on Manchester United at Wembley at the end of this month in the final of this year's Champions League contest (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). As the London stadium only has room for 90,000 spectators, it's clear that there are going to be many applicants who won't be lucky. In total, Barça has received 96,267 applications for the 16,415 seats that it has available for socis of the club; overall, Barcelona has 24,360 seats to distribute of which 220 are being given to socis with physical disabilities, 4,104 for supporters' clubs (penyes) and 3,621 for corporate promotions. A draw will take place this morning to decide which of those who want to go to Wembley will actually have the chance. This is the greatest number of people to take part in such a draw for a Barça match: the next biggest application was for the recent Copa del Rey final against Real Madrid in Valencia, for which 72,767 people sought one of the 19,714 tickets.
Low-cost Irish airline Ryanair owes the Spanish state €1.23 million in fines and is threatening to close routes if something isn't done to overturn them (read article in Catalan here, Avui). The fines have been issued because of apparent irregularities in the operations of its flights and in response, the president of Ryanair, Michael O'Leary, has sent a letter to the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce, in which he criticises the application of the penalties. O'Leary asked for an urgent meeting because, he says, if a solution is not found to this situation, Ryanair will be forced to reverse its plans for expansion within Spain, leading to the closure of certain routes, cuts in passenger and traffic and job redundancies in many Spanish airports. His letter was published yesterday in the financial newspaper Expansión and is dated January 24th. O'Leary believes that the success that Ryanair is having in Spain—for this year, it is forecast that the company will carry 33 million passengers here—is leading to the unfounded accusations of irregularities and the imposing of fines. In addition, he argues that the presumption of innocence concept hasn't been applied to his business, and the fines were issued without notifying Ryanair first, and thus not giving the company a chance to defend itself.
The number of accidents involving mopeds in Barcelona is increasingly causing concern and the authorities have decided that more action is required on this front as police controls aren't working in improving the safety of moped drivers (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). As such, new systems are being put in place, such as lengthening the time that traffic lights stay on red at certain dangerous crossroads. Pilot schemes for this idea have already been run at two junctions with positive results (no accidents at all in 12 months), so it will now be extended to an additional six intersections where mopeds are often involved in head-on collisions. Speaking to El Periodico, the head of the department dealing with accidents for the Barcelona local police force, Manuel Haro, says, optimistically, that there are two types of moped drivers: "those who have fallen off and those who are going to fall off." Haro explained that the traffic light proposal would see the length of time that both sets of lights at the crossroads in question stay red extended from three to six seconds. Although this means accepting that moped drivers break the law by driving through the red light, Haro says that the most important thing is their safety, rather than expecting them to stick to the rules. He described those who ride mopeds as a group who seem to be unaware of the risks that they are facing; they are 15 times more likely to be involved in an accident than car drivers.