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Obstacles removed for Champions League final to be switched - but UEFA remain defiant

Image: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Image: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

The three EFL play-off finals could be rearranged to allow the all-English Champions League final to be staged at Wembley.

Manchester City’s clash with Chelsea is currently scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 29 in Istanbul, but after the Government announced Turkey had been added to the ‘red list’ of high-risk countries on Friday, calls for a change of venue for the all-Premier League affair have intensified.

UK citizens returning from ‘red list’ countries are required to quarantine at a Government-approved hotel for 10 days.

Wembley is due to host the Sky Bet Championship play-off final on May 29, with the League One and League Two equivalents arranged for the following two days.

It is understood the EFL would consider all options – including altering the arrangements for those fixtures to accommodate the Champions League final – should they be contacted by UEFA.

That could mean the matches being played on different dates, or at alternative venues.

There has so far been no approach from UEFA and the governing body is continuing with preparations for the Champions League final to be played at the Ataturk Stadium as planned.

Turkey is currently in lockdown amid an alarming surge in coronavirus cases.

Speaking on Friday, transport secretary Grant Shapps said the British Government was “very open to hosting the final” and that the Football Association was in discussions with UEFA. He also told fans not to travel to Istanbul.

The FA declined to comment on the situation when approached on Saturday morning, while UEFA’s stance had not changed.

“I’m afraid we are having to put Turkey on the red list. This will have a number of ramifications. First of all, it does mean with the regards to the Champions League, fans should not travel to Turkey,” Shapps told Friday’s press conference.

“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.

“Red countries are those which should not be visited except in the most extreme of circumstances.”

City and Chelsea booked their places in the showpiece event earlier this week after overcoming Paris St Germain and Real Madrid respectively.

Reports on Thursday claimed Aston Villa had offered to host the match. PA understands that, while the West Midlands club would be happy for Villa Park to be considered for the final should it be moved, they acknowledge that UEFA has said the venue is not changing.

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