COVID-19: Doubts over Champions League final venue as Turkey added to red list

Fans of Chelsea and Manchester City should not travel to Turkey for the Champions League final, the transport secretary has said.

Speaking as it was announced that Turkey has been added to England’s COVID-19 red list, Grant Shapps said the Football Association was in talks with UEFA over the venue for the match.

The final is currently scheduled to be played in Istanbul on Saturday, 29 May.

Mr Shapps said the UK is open to hosting the game, but stressed it was a decision for European football’s governing body.

"I’m afraid we are having to put Turkey on the red list," Mr Shapps told a Downing Street news conference.

"This will have a number of ramifications. First of all, it does mean with regards to the Champions League, fans should not travel to Turkey.

"The FA are in discussions with UEFA on this. We are very open to hosting the final but it is ultimately a decision for UEFA.

"Of course the UK has already got a successful track record of football matches with spectators, so we are well placed to do it.

"We are very open to it but it is in the end a decision for UEFA to make, but given there are two English clubs in that final, we look forward to what they have to say."

Sky Sports News reported on Thursday that Aston Villa had approached the FA and UEFA to offer Villa Park as an alternative venue for the final.

The stadium is currently not equipped to UEFA standards for such a big event – the press box, media facilities and camera positions would all need to be heavily adapted – but assessments of those changes are said to be ongoing.

Nevertheless, changing venue at such short notice would create a number of issues.

UEFA insisted earlier this week that it had no plans to move the match.

"The UEFA Champions League final will take place in Istanbul on May 29 with a limited number of spectators and we are assured the temporary lockdown which is in force until May 17 should not have any impact on the match," it said in a statement.

"UEFA continues to work closely with the Turkish Football Federation and the local and national authorities to stage the match safely."

The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust said in a tweet that it was meeting with UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin this week and would be asking for the fixture to be moved.

Chelsea and Manchester City have yet to comment.

Meanwhile, up to 9,500 fans of Manchester United and Spanish side Villareal could attend the Europa League final in Gdansk, Poland on 26 May.

Manchester United are set to be allocated 2,000 tickets, with fans allowed to travel abroad from 17 May under the government’s roadmap for easing COVID restrictions in England.

Poland is on the amber travel list, which means any fans that do go to the game will have to isolate upon their return.

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