Champions League final in Moscow: The British are coming! The British are coming!

It’s an all England battle for the Champions League title this year. Know what that means?

English soccer hooligans, arguably the world’s worst sports fans, will be descending en masse on Moscow on May 21. Some estimates put the total number of English fans at 40,000. While it’s not fair to say all English fans are hooligans, that’s still a big enough number to have me on the first train to Vladivostok.

But will they really make it?

For European soccer fans, the Champions League playoffs — which annually pit the best teams across Europe against one another — is bested only by the European Championship and World Cup in terms of importance. This year, perennial powerhouses Chelsea and Manchester United are facing off in the Cup final.

This year could pose a unique challenge for British fans. Brits in general will travel just about anywhere to support their teams, but they often like to do so on the cheap, renting huge raucous buses or forming decked out caravans kilometers long that take European highways by storm, rather like Parrotheads on their way to a Jimmy Buffett concert on the Cape. But with the final being held this year at essentially the eastern edge of Europe, in the world’s most expensive city, the budget options are few, if any. Flights are going for close to $2,000 round-trip, the train ride from London is 40+ hours, and good hotel rooms are running around $200-$300 a night. This is to say nothing of the fact that visas are harder to come by since there is some lingering bad blood between the British and the Russians over the whole Alexander Litvinenko affair (he’s the ex-KGB spy whacked in London in November 2006).

Right now, it looks like a daunting trip for the budget conscious, some kind of combination of low-cost flight and overland bus or train, hopping Ryan Air or easyJet to Riga or Villnius and then going on from there.

To be sure, hooliganism is a serious subject. During the 2006 World Cup in Germany, organizers took the extraordinary measure of flying in British police to patrol airports and cities in which the British National Team was scheduled to play. Some 3,500 “known hooligans” were barred from entering Germany. And in one day in Stuttgart, police arrested 200 British fans (and took another 400 into custody), largely for “preventative” purposes. Local authorities estimated that the average fan either drank or threw 4 gallons of beer.

How do you stop a British hooligan? Andy Nicholls, a former hooligan from Everton, tells the BBC, “How to stop hooligans? Take every man aged from 14 to 40, cut their arms and legs off. That’ll stop it.”

Russians, take note.