Porto has been confirmed as the venue for the Champions League final after a week of negotiations, with Manchester City and Chelsea fans now free to begin a desperate scramble for tickets and travel to Portugal.
Six thousand tickets have been made available for the supporters of each club at the Estádio do Dragão on 29 May, after Uefa agreed terms for holding the event with Portuguese authorities on Thursday. It follows aborted discussions with the UK government over bringing the match to Wembley.
Both Chelsea and City are now immersing themselves in the necessary logistical planning that will make a short-notice overseas trip possible in the time of Covid. City have informed fans that packages of tickets and flights will be available to “qualified supporters”, though details are yet to be confirmed. But Portugal’s cabinet affairs minister, Mariana Vieira da Silva, said those attending would “come and return on the same day, with a test done, in a bubble situation, on charter flights”.
She added: “There will be two fan zones and from there they will be moved to the stadium and from the stadium to the airport, being in Portugal less than 24 hours. Obviously those coming by plane [to be in Porto while the match is on but do not actually go the stadium] will comply with the established rules and security measures will be put in place as happened in Lisbon last year.”
While the ultimate capacity of the final crowd is also still to be announced, further tickets will go on sale to the general public from 24 May. The question for fans hoping to travel, however, will be whether they can afford to buy a flight. On Thursday afternoon Easyjet’s lowest fare from London or Manchester to Porto on 28 May was £299. To return to Manchester on the day after the match would be another £419.
Hotel accommodation for two nights remains available starting from £250. Supporters who plan on travelling to Portugal will also be expected to record a negative PCR test result before leaving the UK.
Istanbul was originally due to host the final until the UK government placed Turkey on its travel red list last Friday. That would in effect have meant the match would have been played without supporters, forcing Uefa into having to contemplate a new venue. Wembley quickly became an alternative option after Boris Johnson said “it would be brilliant to host the game here if we can”. Ultimately several days of talks came to nothing as the UK failed to offer quarantine exemptions Uefa requested for the game.
In his remarks on announcing Porto as the new host, the Uefa president, Aleksander Ceferin, made specific reference to those discussions. “We accept that the decision of the British government to place Turkey on the red list for travel was taken in good faith and in the best interests of protecting its citizens from the spread of the virus but it also presented us with a major challenge in staging a final featuring two English teams,” he said.
“The difficulties of moving the final are great and the FA and the authorities made every effort to try to stage the match in England and I would like to thank them for their work in trying to make it happen.”
Ceferin added that he hoped the final would represent a positive moment in the passing of the Covid-19 pandemic. “I hope the final will be a symbol of hope at the re-emergence of Europe from a difficult period and that the fans who travel to the game will once again be able to lend their voices to showcase this final as the best in club football,” he said.