Everton fans turning up at Reggio Emilia, the town where their side’s European clash against Atalanta will take place, is a big story, especially as no one there knows what to expect.
Of course, hooliganism is less and less of a problem these days, but once the alcohol starts flowing on away trips, it’s hard to predict what can happen.
Sometimes it all goes swimmingly, sometimes, well…
Still, those in charge of security in the Italian city aren’t being too pessimistic, and they’ve even set up a fan zone, something that wasn’t fully confirmed on Tuesday, for the Everton faithful to congregate in before the game.
However, Isabella Fusiello, Reggio Emilia’s police commissioner, admitted to Corriere della Sera they can’t simply ‘pen’ them in.
She said: “We are a free country, and no one can stop the Everton fans from going down town. If they’re calm and serene, they can do what they want. I would like everyone to follow the example of Red Star fans.”
Back in 2016, the city braced itself for an influx of Serbian fans when Sassuolo played Red Star Belgrade in the Europa League, but nothing happened.
In fact, Fusiello would even be willing to negotiate with Everton fans if they behave well and their requests aren’t ludicrous, much like she did last year.
She continued: “The Serbian fans were exceptional, collaborative. They even asked to be able to go to the stadium on their own, by foot. An unexpected turn of events, but we granted it, and everything went well.”
The number of Everton tickets sold, according to Corriere della Sera, is around 2200, but that is still expected to rise between Wednesday and Thursday.
Two hundred of Atalanta’s ‘ultras’ are expected to turn up tomorrow, but the message they told the police commissioner is they would be ‘coming in peace’.
We’ll have to wait and see what happens later today and Thursday, but, so far, everything appears to be going according to plan.