England could host CL final due to new Turkey travel curbs

AP , Friday 7 May 2021

An aerial view of the Ataturk Olympic stadium, the venue of the postponed Champions League final 2020, during a 4 day curfew amid the spread of the coronavirus disease, in Istanbul, Turkey May 19, 2020 (Reuters)

The all-English Champions League final could be played at home after Turkey was added to England's "red list'' of countries where 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 was hoping to allow around 10,000 fans into the biggest club game of the European football season.

But the British government on Friday warned supporters not to travel to Turkey after imposing the new travel restrictions, and said the English Football Association was in talks with Champions League organizer UEFA about staging the game in Britain, instead.

The most logical English venue to move the game to is Wembley with the London stadium staging eight games of the European Championship across June and July, so it has UEFA's required logistics and broadcasting infrastructure already in place. Wembley was also already due to stage the 2024 Champions League final so it could be moved up three years.

While Villa Park in the central England city of Birmingham has been floated as an option, it is an older stadium that would require significant infrastructure being installed to reach UEFA requirements.

"We are very open to hosting the final but it is ultimately a decision for UEFA,'' British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.

Anyone returning to England from designated red-list countries must stay in hotels for 10 days at their own expense, with meals delivered to their door. Players would also be required to enter quarantine, unless exemptions were granted, which would impact their preparations for the European Championship, which opens on June 11 and is being staged across 10 countries.

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