A decision on the location of the Champions League final is finally expected on Thursday, with Porto in line to host the game provided questions over Covid restrictions are resolved. As the Polish government eased requirements for fans to travel to the Europa League final in Gdansk, details remained to be agreed over the all-English contest between Manchester City and Chelsea.
Uefa wants to take the Champions League final to Portugal, with Porto’s Estádio do Dragão the preferred destination. On Wednesday the Portuguese government announced a relaxation of Covid laws that would allow attendance at live events from 19 May, but only at 10% of capacity. Uefa is hoping for a crowd of at least 20,000, which would amount to nearly 40% of the Dragão’s 50,035 seats.
Uefa has asked for the rules to be lifted for the event, and for guarantees on travel exemptions for officials, media and sponsors. Currently visitors from France and the Netherlands, among other countries, have to undergo a 14-day quarantine upon entering Portugal.
The UK government claimed that requests over quarantine waivers led to stalemate in discussions this week over moving the match to Wembley, after English fans had been banned from travelling to the original location of Istanbul. Uefa, under increasing pressure to find a suitable location, is confident of striking a deal in Porto.
The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust said on Wednesday that it had spoken with the president of Uefa, Alexander Ceferin, and been promised priority for fans in being allowed to attend. Dominic Rosso, the vice-chair of the trust, tweeted that Ceferin had assured him “Uefa will ‘take care’ that supporters will be able to attend the final with priority being given to CFC and MCFC”.
Meanwhile, the culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, said England remained ready to host the match. “I am still hopeful we might be able to get it here but we do have to protect certain principles,” he said. “It is important that we protect the integrity of our quarantine system.”
The Europa League final between Manchester United and Villarreal is due to be played in front of a crowd of 9,500, including 2,000 supporters from each club. The Polish government has extended a waiver on quarantine rules to British visitors for the match, meaning they do not have to take a PCR test upon arrival.
In a statement it said: “In order to facilitate the arrival of British football fans to the Europa League final to Gdansk, [the] Polish government has changed the regulation, allowing for their arrival with a test performed in the UK.”