The Champions League final between Manchester City and Chelsea is all set to move from Istanbul to Wembley Stadium.
UEFA had previously resisted pressure to move the all-English final on the basis of minimising travel during the pandemic. But the decision of the UK government to place Turkey on a travel “red list” on Friday prompted new talks between the FA and UEFA.
The end result is that the Saturday 29 May showpiece event is going to be played in London, according to a new report in the Times.
The final was due to be held in Istanbul’s Ataturk Stadium with a one-third capacity of around 25,000 fans in attendance. But the UK government’s decision to place serious travel restrictions on Turkey due to the coronavirus situation in the country meant fans were faced a 10-day quarantine on their return if they decided to travel.
Now “the plight of English fans has forced UEFA into a rethink,” according to the Times with the game to be held at the 90,000-capacity Wembley, which hosted the Carabao Cup final in April and will be the venue for the FA Cup final between Chelsea and Leicester on Saturday 15 May.
A total of 21,000 fans are set to attend the FA Cup final, while UEFA are believed to want the capacity at Wembley to be raised to 22,500 fans for the UCL final at the end of the month.
— Times Sport (@TimesSport) May 10, 2021
There were reports of Man City and Chelsea getting an allocation of either 4,000 or 6,000 tickets per club for the final at the Ataturk.
Similar numbers of City and Chelsea fans can be expected at Wembley, though with the added bonus that travel will definitely be far easier.
The Champions League final was held at Wembley in 2013 (when Bayern Munich beat Borussia Dortmund) and a decade ago in 2011, when Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona beat Manchester United 3-1.
Guardiola’s City have also won a final at Wembley in April when they beat Tottenham 1-0 in the Carabao Cup final, although Thomas Tuchel’s side defeated City 1-0 in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley in April.
On the original decision to place Turkey on the travel red list, UK transport secretary Grant Schapps said last week: “We are having to be cautious about this. I’m afraid we’re having to put Turkey on the red list and it will have ramifications.
“Fans should not travel to Turkey. The FA are in discussions with UEFA already on this and we are very open to hosting the final.
“Ultimately it’s the decision of UEFA. We have a successful track record of matches with spectators. I’ve spoken to the sport’s minister, we’re very open to it and in the end it’s a decision for UEFA but given it’s two English clubs in final we’re waiting to hear what they have to say.”