Chelsea's security advisers and the British Consulate in Turkey are working together to ascertain the circumstances that led to two travelling supporters being stabbed in apparently separate incidents around the same bar in Istanbul on the eve of the club's Champions League meeting with Galatasaray.
The clashes are understood to have taken place in the busy Taksim Square area of the city on Tuesday evening, where two Leeds United fans were stabbed and killed before their club's Uefa Cup semi-final against Galatasaray in 2000. Neither of the Chelsea supporters wounded is thought to have been seriously hurt – one is believed to have been stabbed in the buttocks and the other in his hand – and it is believed neither required hospital attention.
The club, who are accompanied by an officer from the Metropolitan police as standard on away trips in Europe and routinely carry out an advance inspection of all European venues with a club official before games, were made aware of the incidents and are now speaking with supporters in the city to gather information about what happened. Although it is primarily the duty of the local police to deal with the incident, Chelsea will have to supply Uefa with a report on the matter.
Dave Johnstone, a spokesman for the Chelsea fanzine cfcuk, who is in Istanbul, said: "I'd say 99.9% of people we have met in Istanbul have been really nice and friendly. You can go to any city in the world and find yourself in trouble. There is probably more violence in parts of London. I don't want to generalise about all Galatasaray or Turkish football fans. There will always be the minority of people looking for trouble. My advice to those fans coming out today would be to be on your toes, be wary. Don't go looking for trouble. Be friendly."
Trouble had reportedly flared after a bar being frequented by English fans was targeted by a group of locals in a city that has been on high alert over political and social unrest over recent days. There are demonstrations scheduled for Wednesday in Taksim Square as protests escalate against the current government in Turkey.
That in itself is a concern as Chelsea fans have been instructed to meet in the square before being bussed to the stadium on Wednesday evening. The British Consulate have been contacted by Chelsea officials in Turkey, with the Foreign Office confirming they were "looking into reports" and would be providing consular assistance if required.
Chelsea had offered advice to travelling supporters on their website earlier this week. "While Istanbul is generally a safe city and the police have not given any specific areas to be avoided (other than the Metro to the stadium on match day), supporters should be aware of pickpockets, petty theft and bag snatchers in crowded places," it read. "Care should be taken to keep bags and cameras secure and not to keep on show any other valuables. Supporters are advised to leave their passports in the hotel safe and use another form of photographic ID."
Chelsea anticipate around 1,300 of their fans to attend the fixture at the Turk Telekom Arena on Wednesday evening, with the majority travelling out on the day of the game.