Fresh twist in Champions League final plans which could impact Sunderland, Lincoln City, Blackpool and Oxford United
Portugal has edged ahead of Wembley in the battle to host the Champions League final, according to the latest reports.
The clash between Manchester City and Chelsea on Saturday, May 29 is set to be moved from Istanbul after concerns over the fact that Turkey was placed on England’s ‘red’ travel list.
If it was to be played at Wembley over the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of the month that could see the EFL play-off finals – which Sunderland hope to be part of – moved elsewhere.
However, there has been another twist.
The Times report: “The option of moving the Champions League final to Portugal instead of Wembley Stadium is looking increasingly likely after talks between Uefa and the British government failed to overcome some major issues.
“Uefa looks set to move the final on May 29 away from Istanbul given that Turkey is on the UK’s “red list” banning travel there due to Covid cases, but Wembley is not definitely the alternative choice. Porto has emerged as a strong candidate given that Portugal have no restrictions on visitors into the country, and it is on the UK’s “green list”.”
They report further talks are planned for Tuesday.
Speaking to Sky News on Sunday, government minister Michael Gove admitted that ‘delicate negotiations’ were ongoing over moving the final.
"My friend, my colleague, the culture secretary Oliver Dowden, is talking to people about this at the moment, and so I don't want to cut across that,” he said.
“But I'm sure that fans in the UK would dearly love to see the final played here in the UK.”
This decision would in turn have a knock-on effect for all three EFL play-off finals, which are set to take place from May 29 to May 31.
Sunderland are one of a quartet of teams vying for a place in the League One play-off final on May 30, with Lincoln City, Oxford United and Blackpool also in contention.
The Championship play-off final is currently scheduled for May 29, with the League Two final set for May 31.
But the EFL are now reportedly considering all options in regards to the trio of games – including arranging alternative venues or rearranging the fixtures to ensure that they can still be played at Wembley.