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City gets ready to welcome next Champions League visitors

Published on Friday, November 18, 2016

FANS arriving for Leicester City’s final home game in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League are to be given a warm welcome next Tuesday (22 November).

Having greeted the FC Copenhagen fans with some Danish-style ‘hygge’ last month, the city is now hoping to welcome the Club Brugge fans with two of the things that Belgium is most famous for.

The chocolatiers at Cocoa Amore on Silver Street are hoping to convince the Brugge fans that chocolate from Leicester can compete with the best that Belgium can produce. Fans popping in to the store will be able to sample their finest handmade chocolates, or warm up with a delicious hot chocolate in the Cocoa Amore café. 

A ‘Welkom Club Brugge’ plaque – featuring the club’s crest and made entirely from chocolate by Cocoa Amore’s staff – has pride of place in the shop’s window.

On High Street, staff at Cafe Bruxelles are looking forward to tempting the fans with their range of more than 30 different Belgian beers. The historic building, with its stunning domed ceiling and heated terrace, is just a few metres from the match-day fanzone in Jubilee Square – but to make sure that the fans make a beeline for their bar, its owners will be changing its name.

All traces of the word ‘Bruxelles’ will be removed in honour of the city’s visitors, with the bar re-named ‘Café Brugge’ for the day. The bar’s resident Tintin is expected to wear the blue shirt of Brugge – and even its ‘Mannekin Pis’ will be encouraged to wave a Brugge flag.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “The city of Bruges made Leicester fans very welcome back in September, so we’re keen to ensure that the Club Brugge fans enjoy their visit to our city too.

“There’s a lot more to Leicester than beer and chocolate, of course, and I hope that the fans get the opportunity to explore our historic city centre, enjoy some shopping under our Christmas lights, and go home with many happy memories of their visit.”

The 1,900 Club Brugge fans expected to make the journey will be greeted with a friendly ‘goeiedag!’ and helped on their way with a free map and a city centre guide. 

The fans will be encouraged to explore the shops, bars and visitor attractions in the city centre, before they meet up with their fellow fans in Jubilee Square, which will be transformed into a pre-match fanzone for fans of both teams.

A DJ will provide the entertainment, with hot food and drink available from stalls and a licensed bar in the square. Street artists and stilt walkers in Club Brugge and Leicester City kit will help create a family atmosphere, and fans will also be able to enjoy views of the city from the Wheel of Light – the big wheel that’s in Jubilee Square as part of the city’s Christmas celebrations.

Staff in shops and bars will be encouraged to learn a few words of Flemish, and a welcome video in Flemish – produced by the city council – will be widely shared on social media ahead of the match.

The Jubilee Square fanzone will open at 3pm on Tuesday to provide a pre-match meeting point for fans of both teams, but its big screen will not be showing the match. 

Fans without tickets for the game will be able to watch it live at BT Sport pubs in the city centre.

Leicester City – who are top of their group with 10 points after four games – require just one more point to guarantee their place in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.

The draw for the next stage will be made on Monday 12 December, with the matches to be played in February and March 2017.