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Obstacles Involved in Moving Champions League Final to the UK

Could City play much closer to home?

Manchester City v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Leg Two Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

There’s only one thing that can beat the feeling of seeing Manchester City lift the Champions League trophy for the first time in the club’s history. It’s being present on the ground where it happens and witnessing the occasion in person.

Certainly, tears of joy will flow in abundance, from players and fans alike if the team beats Chelsea to win the competition. It will be a dream come true for the Cityzens and a crowning moment for the club’s owners. Also, a fitting reward for the tireless work done by the club’s staff at all levels.

For now though, City faithful dreaming of witnessing the event first-hand must wait to know if that will materialise. Scheduled to be held at Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey on May 29th, there have been calls for the final to be moved to England. That is as a result of the current travel restrictions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

Since both clubs contesting the final are from England, it makes sense that they play the game at home. None of the teams will have an unfair advantage over the other and more importantly, a significant portion of the fans will be afforded the opportunity to cheer on their teams on the day.

Unfortunately, many obstacles stand in the way.

To start with, the final is under three weeks away. There are usually a lot of things that go into preparations to host such a big game. For example, the Turkish authorities have incurred significant costs in the course of preparing for the showpiece.

They will need to be reimbursed or at least compensated for the costs incurred. To do that, UEFA reportedly wants the clubs involved in this season’s Champions League to give up part of their prize money to meet the estimated £20m-plus preparation costs. But will they agree to that?

The UK government recently placed Turkey in the ‘red list’ of countries. This required that people from the UK ‘should not travel for leisure purposes’ and must book a hotel quarantine upon their return at their own expense. That makes it very difficult for fans to travel to Turkey for the game.

On their own part, UEFA is seeking assurances from the government that all media, broadcasters, sponsors and VIPs will be able to attend the showcase final without any quarantine issues if the match is to be moved to the UK.

Another issue of concern is the venue. Several venues such as the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Aston Villa’s Villa Park, Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, Newcastle United’s St. James’ Park, the Principality Stadium at Cardiff and Glasgow’s Hampden Park have all been ruled out for different reasons.

That leaves Wembley, which has a capacity of 22,500 until mid-June, as the only suitable venue. But that option also presents some problems. Since the Champions League final is set for May 29th, there will be a clash in date with the Championship playoff.

The playoff final is set to take place at the venue on the same day. A shift in date for one of the matches could solve this problem but a lot more will need to be sorted out for this historic Champions League game to take place on UK shores. Work is going on behind the scenes to find a solution as revealed by Conservative MP Michael Gove in a recent interview.

“There are delicate negotiations that are going on at the moment. My friend, my colleague the culture secretary Oliver Dowden (the minister for sport) 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,” Gove said while speaking to Sky News.

For now, fingers remain crossed from both the Chelsea and Man City divide as a final decision is expected this week.

Hopefully, that will benefit everyone involved (especially the fans).