COULD VILLA PARK HOST THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL?
While although Chelsea and Manchester City will be celebrating the fact that they’ve made it to this season’s Champions League final, UEFA’s showpiece event now comes with something of a logistical issue.
One that comes in the shape of where the final will be staged and although both English clubs have completed the Road to Istanbul, there could be a detour before this all-important clash on Saturday May 29th.
That’s because with the pressures of a global pandemic still at large, the thought of cross-continental travel is one that is unappealing and creates a massive level of apprehension for all involved at the same time.
Because with quarantine restrictions still in place, the thought of having to travel to a country where Europe meets Asia seems like a rather difficult task – not to mention, only a select few will be able to make such a long journey.
Which means with the backdrop of COVID-19 still playing a part in the way sport is hosted, an alternative venue could be an option and it is an option, that may find itself utilising Birmingham as a host city.
For Birmingham read Villa Park and with the home of the West Midlands outfit considered as more equidistant for Manchester City and Chelsea, there is an awful amount of logic in switching to an English location.
Of course, this may mean more bad news for Istanbul and after the last year’s plans to host a Champions League final were quickly moved to Lisbon and the rather successful one city summer knockout tournament, UEFA will not want to hand out more bad news.
However, the Ataturk Stadium does seem an awfully long way away for both finalists and although the venues are usually decided well in advance, the circumstances that the game finds itself in are far from usual.
Such is the advance scheduling of venues, that is has thrown up rather laughable instances in the past and you only need to look at the last time Chelsea won a European trophy as positive proof of that.
That’s because, when Chelsea got the better of Arsenal in the 2019 Europa League final, they did so in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku and although it was a location etched in stone, it did question UEFA’s lack of flexibility.
Flexibility that could be a lot more prominent now and for all the talk of looking out for fans after recent times, a Villa Park switch may be the perfect way to also display a large amount of common sense.
Admittedly, there might be some upheaval in terms of sponsorship and certainly for those who planned to watch the game in Istanbul. Then again, surely the mooted host city would prefer to host the biggest party possible.
With that in mind, perhaps it is not too late to once again put the existing schedule back a year and let Villa Park play host to an all-Premier League clash instead. There is not a lot of time to make a decision, but still enough to make one that suits the clubs involved.