The all-English Champions League final could be played at home after Turkey was added to England’s ‘red list’ of countries to which all but essential travel is banned due to severe coronavirus outbreaks.
Chelsea and Manchester City are due to meet on May 29 in Istanbul and UEFA hoped to allow around 10,000 fans to attend the biggest club game of the European football season.
But the British government on Friday warned fans not to travel to Turkey after imposing the new travel restrictions, and said the English Football Association was in talks with Champions League organizers UEFA. , to organize the match in Great Britain.
The most logical English venue to move the game to is Wembley, with the London stadium hosting eight European Championship games in June and July, so it already has the logistical and broadcast infrastructure required by UEFA. Wembley were also already set to stage the 2024 Champions League final so it could be brought forward three years.
While Villa Park in the city of Birmingham in central England has been offered as an option, it is an older stadium which would require the installation of significant infrastructure to meet the requirements of the UEFA.
“We are very open to hosting the final, but it is ultimately a UEFA decision,” said British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. “The UK already has a successful track record of spectator football, so we are well placed to do so.
“As there are two English clubs in this final, we are eagerly awaiting what they have to say.”
Turkey is in the second week of a three-week nationwide lockdown and government figures show coronavirus cases are down, but 20,107 new infections were announced on Friday and 278 deaths. The rollout of the vaccine in Britain meant the country recorded 2,490 cases on Friday and 15 deaths.
Brits should only visit Red List countries “in the most extreme circumstances”, Shapps said. Anyone returning must stay in hotels for 10 days at their own expense, with meals delivered to their doorstep.
Players would also be required to enter quarantine unless exemptions are granted, which would impact their preparations for the European Championship, which opens on June 11 and takes place in 10 countries.
Should the Champions League final be moved to Wembley, the English Football League would have to agree to move the date of the Championship play-offs to determine the final promotion place in the Premier League, which is due to be played at the stadium on May 29.
In recent weeks Wembley has staged England’s only football matches with fans in 2021 as part of test events, with the crowd for the FA Cup final on May 15 rising to 21,000 who must produce a test of negative coronavirus.
At least 22,500 fans will be allowed to attend the three Euro 2020 group stage matches at Wembley in June, with Wembley’s capacity of 90,000 expected to be half full for the July 11 final.
The pandemic has already prevented Istanbul from staging the 2020 Champions League final with the game moved to Lisbon to be played in an empty stadium.