MOSCOW: Russian football fans will have a chance to own a seat from Moscow’s iconic Luzhniki Stadium, the interior of which is being gutted as part of refurbishments for the 2018 football World Cup.

Nearly 80,000 red, orange and yellow seats that were controversially installed by a company belonging to the wife of former Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov in 1995 have been ripped out of the stands and are currently sitting on the arena’s running track.

According to RIA-Novosti Alexander Shprygin, head of the All-Russian Supporters Union, claims his organization has struck a deal with Moscow City Hall to distribute the seats to fans free of charge.

Luzhniki is Russia’s flagship stadium, used for the 1980 Summer Olympics, the 2008 Champions League final and August’s world athletics championships. It is to stage the opening match, a semifinal and the final of the 2018 World Cup after undergoing a three-and-a-half-year refit.

Last month the government launched a $612 million tender to carry out all necessary work, and the winning contractor was to be announced on Wednesday.

Original plans had a final capacity of 90,000 spectators, but the budget was reduced and world governing body FIFA approved new designs with the more modest total of 80,000. There are to be 300 places for disabled people.

The renovated venue will also include 2,000 VIP seats and around 2,000 places for media, with 160 commentator positions. It is one of 12 stadiums in 11 cities set to stage the 2018 World Cup. All are to be built from scratch or undergo major refurbishments.

The Luzhniki tender was announced just as Russia’s newly formed Construction Ministry was granted supervisory powers over all construction projects for the World Cup.