EFL considered moving Papa John’s Trophy final between Sunderland and Tranmere away from Wembley to accommodate fans
The EFL considered moving the Papa John’s Trophy final away from Wembley as they tried to accommodate fans for the fixture – yet they couldn't find a viable solution.
Sunderland’s match against Tranmere will take place on Sunday, March 14, as originally scheduled, after suggestions the game could be moved so that fans could attend.
Under the government’s proposed roadmap out of lockdown, a limited number of fans could be admitted to sporting events from late May.
But before that possibility, Wembley will host two Papa John's Trophy Finals on consecutive days, dubbed the 'Wembley Weekender', with Portsmouth set to face Salford in the postponed 2020 final on Saturday, March 13.
An FA spokesperson said: “After full and comprehensive consultation with all relevant stakeholders, including the three other Clubs involved in the Wembley Weekender fixtures, it has been determined that the Papa John’s Trophy Final fixture(s) will remain as scheduled.
“Detailed discussions took place on a number of potential alternatives, including splitting the two Finals, changing the future fixture schedule, or moving the fixture(s) away from Wembley Stadium, however the logistical, operational and financial challenges meant that on balance those were not viable solutions.
“As has been the case since the outset of the pandemic it remains disappointing for fans of all EFL Clubs who are unable to go and watch their team play at present and, of course that includes those whose Club has secured a place in the first domestic finals of the season next month.
“Alongside other leagues and sports we are working to ensure that we can start to see fans back through the turnstiles at the earliest possible opportunity and through our we will continue to liaise with the Government, SGSA and relevant local authorities. Where the EFL and its clubs can support the roadmap for a swift and safe return, we will.”
Sunderland look set to see no fans in their League One fixtures for the remainder of the regular campaign, which is scheduled to finish at home to Northampton Town on May 8th.
Dates for play-off semi final fixtures have yet to be confirmed but the final is scheduled for Wembley on the bank holiday weekend of May 29-31st – meaning fans could potentially attend.