A fascinating dilemma emerged for UEFA just a number of weeks before the 2021 Champions League final.
The confirmation on May 5 of an all-Premier League final between Manchester City and Chelsea, coupled with the fact that Turkey was added the England’s Covid-19 travel ‘red list’ on May 7 prompted calls for the game to be moved.
With two English teams competing for the trophy, fan groups and government officials have made a case for the decider to be moved to a venue in England instead.
Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul was chosen by UEFA to stage the Champions League final in 2020, but public health circumstances related to the worldwide pandemic saw hosting duty pushed back to 2021.
Is it possible that the Turkish venue’s hosting duty will once again be delayed?
WILL THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL BE MOVED TO WEMBLEY?
It is not clear whether the Champions League final will be moved from Istanbul to Wembley, but a clear decision is expected to be made by May 12.
A meeting between UEFA and the UK authorities was scheduled for May 10 over the possibility of moving the game to England. Ultimately, UEFA will have the final say on the matter.
Before that meeting, UK government minister Michael Gove explained that “delicate negotiations” were ongoing with the European football governing body.
“My son is a Chelsea fan and he would dearly love to see the game played in the UK,” Gove told Sky News. “But there are delicate negotiations that are going on at the moment.
“My friend, my colleague the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, is talking to people about this at the moment and so I don’t want to cut across that, but I’m sure that fans in the UK would dearly love to see the final played here in the UK.”
Chelsea supporters were quick to call for the game to be moved to the UK in order to allow fans of both teams to attend the game.
Wembley has already hosted games with a limited number of supporters permitted, including the Carabao Cup final, which was played in front of over 7,000 fans in April.
The 90,000-seater stadium is also set to host the FA Cup final on May 15, with up to 20,000 supporters being permitted as part of a pilot event.
However, Wembley is the traditional venue for the EFL play-off finals, the dates of which clash with the Champions League final. Nevertheless, the EFL has indicated an openness to the idea of moving the venue for the play-off finals.
WHEN WILL THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL BE PLAYED?
Saturday, May 29 is the scheduled date for the 2021 Champions League final. The game is scheduled to kick off at 8pm BST (3pm ET).
The trouble for UEFA and UK authorities is that the 2021 Championship play-off final, where two teams face off for the right to play in the Premier League, also falls on that date.
It seems unlikely that UEFA will move the date of their flagship curtain-call, so if the continental decider is to be played in England one of two things must happen.
Either the EFL agrees to rearranging the venue of the Championship play-off final or UEFA could find another suitable venue in England for the Champions League final.
If Wembley is out of reach, then another UEFA Category 4 stadium, such as Old Trafford or Anfield, could arguably be used.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE GAME IS NOT MOVED TO WEMBLEY?
If UEFA decides not to move the Champions League final to Wembley, then it will logically go ahead at Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul.
The issue with the game being played in Turkey is that UK citizens returning from ‘red list’ countries are required to quarantine in a government approved hotel for 10 days.
That is seen as a barrier for fans wishing to travel to the game, as well any player who has been selected to represent their country at Euro 2020, which kicks off on June 11.
It is possible that special exemptions could be made in order to facilitate travel to the final, but it may be difficult to justify in the case of fans, who would be travelling for leisure.
Originally published by Goal.