The Champions League final between Manchester City and Chelsea slated to be played in Istanbul on May 29 is likely to be moved from the Turkish city, sources have told ESPN, with UEFA and the English FA in talks over staging the game in England after the U.K. government’s decision to place Turkey on its travel red list.
Sources told ESPN that UEFA is “assessing its position” on the venue for the Champions League final, having only been made aware of the U.K. decision on Turkey on Friday.
In an announcement on Friday, the UK announced that any arrivals from Turkey would have to isolate at an airport hotel for 10 days, without exception, due to the increasing COVID-19 levels in the country.
The red list is the U.K.’s strictest level of travel restrictions and applies to all travellers, including players as well as travelling supporters.
Up to 8,000 travelling fans from both clubs had been expected to travel to Turkey from England for the final, but official U.K. government advice now warns against travel to the country UEFA was forced to move last season’s final from Istanbul to Lisbon due to the pandemic, and the Ataturk Stadium is now likely to miss out again.
Speaking in a news conference to announce the decision on Turkey, U.K. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that the government, FA and UEFA are now discussing the possibility of moving the game to England.
‘”The Champions League is the pinnacle of European club football,” U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was quoted as saying by the Sun newspaper on Friday. “And with two English teams contesting the final, it would be a great shame if fans were unable to attend. It would be brilliant to host the game here if we can. I want to help supporters of both clubs see their team in action.”
Wembley Stadium, which last hosted the final in 2013, is unavailable for this season’s game due to the EFL play-offs being booked for the same weekend.
Villa Park in Birmingham has offered to stage the game if moved, but UEFA could also consider taking the game to Lisbon again — Portugal is on the U.K. green list, which allows open travel between the two countries — or another venue that would enable fans and players to travel.
“U.K. officials seem to insist but we are moving ahead according to UEFA directions and statements. There were no updates on this from an official channel, we will be hosting the final in Istanbul,” a Turkish Football Federation spokesman said.