Sporting Travels: Man United v Chelsea, Old Trafford, August 11th

Getting there, tickets and accommodation: all you need to know for this season opener

Chelsea's visit to Old Trafford on the opening weekend of the 2019-2020 Premiership season (Sunday August 11th, 4.30pm kickoff) represents a standout fixture – even allowing for the fact that, as things stand and with a couple of weeks of the transfer window still open, neither side look equipped on paper to challenge title-holders Manchester City or Champions League winners Liverpool.

Chelsea are under new management with old boy Frank Lampard in charge, their best player Eden Hazard has left, and they are hamstrung by a transfer ban. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is in his first full season in charge and there is uncertainty around the futures of David de Gea, Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku, while United's transfer dealings to date have been understated to put it mildly.

Those will be incidental considerations for both sets of supporters, who will be hoping for an early marker to underpin their team's title challenge. It's unlikely to be as feisty as the days when Ron "Chopper" Harris put in the sort of "tackle" on George Best that would see him getting not so much sent off as arrested, but there should be enough spice to satisfy most palates.

Getting there: Flying from Dublin to Manchester on the day of the match comes with an eye-watering price tag, with Aer Lingus charging €460.98 for a return flight, going out Sunday morning (the day of the match) and coming back mid-Monday morning. Throw in overnight accommodation (€79-€177 for a three-star hotel is representative of what's available on the Sunday night), a match ticket and food and drink, and the cost goes north of €650.


A popular option amongst Irish travel agents is to offer coach/ferry travel with a match ticket included. Marathon Travel have a coach/ferry option for €189 with a check-in at Dublin Port at 6.45am on the Sunday morning, a coach transfer from Holyhead to Manchester and then, after the game, a pick-up at 11pm for a 2.40am departure from the north Wales port that gets back to Dublin at 5.55am. A match ticket is included.

Celtic Horizon Tours (€259 adult, €239 child) and Dawson Travel (€269 adult) both offer a similar itinerary for a coach/ferry option with an overnight stay. Celtic has a bus that runs from Galway (2.45am Sunday morning) and also one from Wexford (4.45am) that picks up in Enniscorthy (5.05am), Gorey (5.25am), the Beehive pub (5.45am), the Hilton Garden Inn, Custom House (06.45) and Irish Ferries Terminal 1 (7am). Accommodation is in the Holiday Inn, Manchester Airport and there is a €60 supplement for a single room. A match ticket is included.

Midland Travel offers a two-night stay on a coach/ferry option for €319 adult and €299 child, with pick-ups in Athlone, Tullamore, Kilbeggan, Kinnegad, Lucan, the Hilton Garden Inn, Custom House and Irish Ferries T1. A match ticket is included.

Tickets: Match tickets for Manchester United home games at Old Trafford range from £21-£64 for an adult, £18 for an under-16, £22-£28 for age16/17, £29-£45.50 for age 18-20, and £22-£28 for age 65+.

Where to stay: The three-star Victoria Warehouse hotel is a five-minute walk from Old Trafford and had rooms available starting at €79. The Holiday Inn Express on Salford Quays will look to relieve you of €177 for overnight accommodation. If you prefer to stay in the city centre, the four-star Princes Street hotel will cost €93 for the Sunday night in question.

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer