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FA in talks with UEFA over moving Champions League final to UK

The Football Association is in talks with UEFA over moving the all-English Champions League final to the UK, according to transport secretary Grant Shapps.

Shapps said the British Government was “very open to hosting the final” between Manchester City and Chelsea, which is due to be played in Istanbul.

However, Istanbul’s hosting of the match has been thrown into doubt after Turkey was placed on the Government’s coronavirus ‘red list’.

UK citizens returning from ‘red list’ countries are required to quarantine at a Government-approved hotel for 10 days.

The Government announced Turkey had been added to the list of high-risk countries at a briefing on Friday evening.

City and Chelsea booked their places in the final on May 29 after overcoming Paris St Germain and Real Madrid respectively earlier this week.

Immediately talk turned to England hosting the final, with Turkey in a lockdown.

Speaking at a press conference, Shapps said: “I’m afraid we are having to put Turkey on the red list. This will have a number of ramifications. First of all, it does mean with the regards to the Champions League, fans should not travel to Turkey.

Grant Shapps
Grant Shapps confirmed the Football Association has approach UEFA over whether the match could be moved to England (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“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.”

Shapps added: “Red countries are those which should not be visited except in the most extreme of circumstances, where repeated testing and isolation in designated Government hotels on return is compulsory.

“Non-UK residents who have been in a red country in the last 10 days will still be barred from entering the UK.”

Manchester City celebrate
Manchester City are not applying any pressure to have the game moved (Dave Thompson/AP)

City have not commented but the PA news agency understands the club will sit back and wait for further guidance from UEFA.

Unless they are told otherwise by the governing body, they will continue to prepare for the match to be played in Istanbul and are not applying any pressure to have the game moved.

The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust, though, has called for it to be switched to the UK.

The Chelsea fan group revealed plans for a meeting with UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin this week, with the intention of urging the European boss to relocate the fixture.

“Turkey has been added to the red list and therefore no CFC supporters can travel to watch the UCL final,” read a CST tweet.

“We are meeting with the UEFA president this week and will request that the fixture is moved to the UK.”

PA has also contacted UEFA, the FA and Chelsea for comment.

UEFA had insisted earlier this week that it had no plans to change the venue, stating: “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.

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

And earlier on Friday, the Turkish Football Federation launched a dedicated website for Istanbul’s hosting of the match on Friday, which appeared to put to bed any possibility of it being switched.

TFF president Servet Yardimci, who is also a member of UEFA’s ruling executive committee, said: “We have been working diligently with the national authorities and UEFA to ensure that it will be an unforgettable occasion, much like the last final we hosted in 2005.

“Turkey is a country that is passionate about football and our football capital will once again be at the centre of the football world on May 29 when the two best teams in Europe meet at the renovated Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul.”

Reports on Thursday claimed Aston Villa had offered host the match. PA understands that, while Villa would be happy for their ground to be considered for the final should it be moved, they acknowledge that UEFA has said the venue is not changing.

It is also understood that significant upgrading at Villa Park would be required to make it compliant.

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