(Reuters) - Marseille will not host the 2020 Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the matches will take place at a new venue or venues later this year, European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) said on Thursday.
The EPCR said in a statement http://epcr.activehosted.com/index.php?action=social&chash=69a5b5995110b36a9a347898d97a610e.1170&s=add488ee091753d0f7e7e00665a4df0e that Marseille's 67,000-capacity Stade Velodrome would host the 2021 Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals.
The knockout stages and finals had already been rescheduled to be played in September and October because of the pandemic, but the local organising committee said the safeguards in place to host matches in Marseille in southern France were insufficient.
"Due to the many uncertainties created by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been decided that the 2020 Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals will not now be held in Marseille as planned," the EPCR said.
"As part of this adjustment to its future planning, EPCR is pleased to announce that Marseille will now host the 2021 Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals at the Stade Velodrome on the weekend of 21/22 May."
EPCR said it was looking at alternate venues to ensure this year's finals go ahead on the weekend of Oct. 16-18. The quarter-finals are scheduled for Sept. 18-20 and the semi-finals are set to take place on Sept. 25-27.
The planned start for the 2020-21 season is the weekend of Dec. 11-13.
(Reporting by Simon Jennings and Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, Editing by Toby Davis and Timothy Heritage)