Istanbul Champions League final in doubt after UK puts Turkey on 'red list'

By Sports Desk May 07, 2021

UEFA and the Football Association are in talks over moving the Champions League final from Istanbul to the UK after Turkey was placed on the country's travel "red list"

Manchester City and Chelsea qualified for the May 29 showpiece with respective victories over Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid this week.

On Thursday, UEFA said it remained committed to staging the game in the Turkish capital, despite the country being under a coronavirus lockdown until May 17 and having the eighth-highest amount of active COVID-19 cases in the world.

UEFA also intended to operate with a reduced capacity at the Ataturk Stadium, although new government rules announced on Friday mean City and Chelsea fans travelling would have to quarantine in government-approved hotels upon their return.

Turkey's red list status, which is effective from May 17 and will not be reviewed for three weeks, would also add significant complications for players returning to the UK before linking up with their national teams for Euro 2020 and the Copa America, unless exemptions can be secured.

Both international tournaments begin on June 11, 13 days after the Champions League final.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday, the UK's secretary of state for transport Grant Shapps said: "Fans should not travel to Turkey. The FA are in discussions with UEFA on this.

"We are very open to hosting the final but it is ultimately a decision for UEFA."

Wembley is set to host the Championship play-off final on May 29, casting doubt over any prospect of moving the Champions League final to England's national stadium.

Sky Sports reported on Thursday that Aston Villa had offered to host the game at Villa Park, with Birmingham holding an appeal in being roughly equidistant between Manchester and London.

UEFA is understood to be taking time to reflect upon the red list decision before making its next move.

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