UEFA urged to put fans first and move Champions League final to Wembley

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UEFA has been urged to favour fans over the ‘prawn sandwich’ contingent and move the all-English Champions League final to Wembley.

Chelsea and Manchester City had been due to play in Istanbul on May 29 but the British Government’s decision last week to place Turkey on its high-risk ‘red list’ for international travel has forced UEFA to consider other options.

It held talks with Government officials on Monday but no agreement was reached, with Portugal now emerging as an alternative.

Conservative MP Steve Brine says UEFA should compromise on the size of the Champions League final delegation
Conservative MP Steve Brine says UEFA should compromise on the size of the Champions League final delegation (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament)

It is understood a sticking point for the Government was UEFA seeking quarantine exemptions for sponsors, VIPs and broadcasters coming into the UK.

Steve Brine, the Conservative MP for Winchester who sits on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee, urged UEFA to put the interests of fans first.

“My understanding is (the disagreement) is not to do with having fans because we’re doing that with various test events,” he told talkSPORT.

“It’s to do with the entourage of officials that UEFA insists comes along to the game. And you know what? We’ve all had to make sacrifices in the last year and we’ve missed things far more important than a game of football.

“So if the game goes ahead with the fans, and without some of the officials with their prawn sandwiches, well then, for a league (UEFA) that is interested in primarily the fans, that shouldn’t be a big ask should it?”

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin hailed the importance of fan protests in thwarting plans by 12 of Europe’s biggest clubs to form a breakaway Super League last month.

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The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust is meeting with Ceferin this week and it has said it will ask him to move the match to the UK.

However, some Chelsea supporters are understood to be sympathetic to the public health concerns surrounding UEFA’s requests on quarantine exemption, at a time when the country is about to embark on further easing of coronavirus lockdown measures.

Porto is an alternative understood to be under consideration by UEFA.

If European football’s governing body does opt for that, it will mean Portugal hosting the Champions League final for the second year in a row after last year’s match was played in Lisbon.

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