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Portugal Emerges As New Favourite To Host Champions League Final Amid Wembley Concerns

Alex Reid

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Portugal Emerges As New Favourite To Host Champions League Final Amid Wembley Concerns

The venue for the Champions League final between Manchester City and Chelsea is set to be confirmed this week - and it might not be held at Wembley after all.

The match, scheduled for Saturday 29 May, was originally due to be played at Istanbul's Ataturk Stadium. But after Turkey was added to the UK's travel "red list" it seemed that the match was - according to a Times report - going to move to England's national stadium, making it far easier for visiting fans and the clubs themselves.

However a new twist has emerged with Portugal now the surprise front-runner to host the all-English clash - with Porto and Lisbon strongly favoured.

With a venue change seemingly now inevitable, Wembley at first seemed the logical choice: a UK venue for two Premier League teams, one that has the facilities to host a Champions League final and the 90,000 capacity meaning - even with social distancing - a decent number of fans attending.

But according to a new report in the Times, talks on Monday between UEFA and the British government failed to resolve major issues, which has now resulted in Portugal being the favoured option.

While UK-based City and Chelsea fans could travel to Wembley with ease, the UK has strict quarantine rules in place for visitors from many European countries. And UEFA are reportedly insistent there should be exemptions for all of its staff, as well sponsors and VIPs.

Another issue is said to be the crowd, with the Times claiming that UEFA want the capacity at Wembley raised from 10,000 to 22,500.

So now Porto and Lisbon are reported to be the favourites as the new host cities for Man City vs Chelsea. Portugal has no restrictions into the country and, unlike Turkey, is on the UK's travel "green list".

Both Porto's home ground, the Estadio do Dragao, has a capacity of just over 50,000. Benfica's Estadio da Luz is slightly bigger - with a capacity of just under 65,000 - and hosted the Champions League final last year in the midst of the pandemic.

Travelling fans to Portugal would not have to quarantine for 10 days on their return to the UK, but would have to take a Covid test.

A ticket allocation for Manchester City and Chelsea fans is not yet decided, but was originally expected to be between 4,000 and 6,000 per club.

A venue and capacity of a stadium needs to be decided first, of course - and despite the original Wembley rumours, it appears that is still up in the air less than three weeks before the game is played.

All imagery: PA Images

Topics: Manchester City, Chelsea, Wembley Stadium, Champions League

Alex Reid
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