The Champions League final between Manchester City and Chelsea on May 29 will be staged in either London or Lisbon, with sources telling ESPN that UEFA has identified the two cities as alternative venues to Istanbul due to the worsening COVID-19 situation in the Turkish city.
A decision on the new venue for the game is expected within the next 24 hours with UEFA determined to ensure clarity for the two clubs and their supporters.
While sources have told ESPN that Wembley Stadium is UEFA’s favoured option to stage the game, the failure so far of the United Kingdom’s government to relax its regulations that require arrivals into the country to quarantine for 10 days makes it impossible for the Champions League final to be moved to London due to as many as 2,000 UEFA staff and sponsors, and international broadcast rights holders, needing to be at the game.
As reported by ESPN on Friday, the decision by the UK government to place Turkey on its travel red list forced UEFA to find a new host venue for the all-English final due to the necessity for all arrivals from Turkey into the UK to quarantine at an airport hotel for 10 days. There are no exemptions to the UK law, meaning that all players and coaching staff with the two clubs would have quarantine on their return to England.
Playing the game at Wembley would ensure that up to 25,000 fans of both City and Chelsea would be able to attend the showpiece.
Sources have told ESPN that UEFA remain in talks with the UK government and English Football Association in an effort to find a breakthrough to enable the game to be played at Wembley.
But with Portugal having been placed on the UK’s green list, which enables travel without quarantine between the two nations, UEFA have identified Lisbon as the back-up option in the event of the UK government refusing to relax its restrictions.
Benfica’s Estadio da Luz hosted the 2019-20 final between Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain after the game was moved from Istanbul’s Ataturk Stadium as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Estadio Jose Alvalade, home of Sporting Lisbon, also hosted games in the eight-team final stage competition last season.
FC Porto’s Estadio do Dragao has been reported as being an option for this season’s final, but sources have told ESPN that the stadium’s TV compound is not big enough to cope with the demand for a Champions League final and that a lack of hotel accommodation in the city would also be an issue.
Wembley remains the preferred solution, but UEFA will need a swift change of direction from the UK if the game is to take place at the stadium.
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