Wembley set to benefit from Dublin losing Euro 2020 matches
Confirmation of matches being moved from Aviva Stadium is expected on Friday
4,000 local fans were permitted to attend the FA Cup semi-final between Leicester and Southampton at Wembley on Sunday. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Uefa will reallocate Dublin’s four Euro 2020 matches to other cities on Friday, with London’s Wembley Stadium lined up to absorb the last-16 tie on June 29th.
Cautious lockdown easing by the Irish health authorities since Covid-19 cases spiked in January left the FAI scrambling to salvage their hosting rights within the 12-city format.
Due to their inability to guarantee a minimum 25 per cent attendance at their matches, Dublin, Bilbao and Munich were granted a four-day extension by Uefa on Monday but only the German city is understood to have offered updated assurances.
On Wednesday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that the games had come “too soon” for Dublin to be able to satisfy Uefa’s attendance criteria.
Indications are that Germany will preserve home advantage in Munich for their three group fixtures against France, Portugal and Hungary but lose the quarter-final scheduled on July 2nd.
Spanish authorities have desperately attempted to provide an alternative arena to Bilbao. The Basque city council are livid that Uefa have stripped them of their matches, threatening to sue the European governing body, but other cities amongst the dozen have offered to facilitate a transfer, which will be confirmed on Friday.
Wembley is to benefit from Ireland’s misfortune.
Uefa officials had conducted an inspection of Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium for contingency purposes once serious doubts emerged about Dublin’s hosting last month, yet the furore caused by the doomed Super League project earlier in the week has ruled out the prospect of the organisers paying any of the breakaway clubs a hosting fee for this summer’s festival of international matches.
While that last-16 tie will swell Wembley’s complement of tournament matches to eight, including both semi-finals and final, Russia’s St Petersburg has emerged as a leading candidate to take ownership of the three Group E fixtures.
Poland’s meeting with Slovakia on June 14th, Sweden against Slovakia on June 18th and the clash of Poland and the Swedes on the final day of the group stage, June 23rd, could be heading to Russia. None of those games clash with the fixtures already scheduled for the 67,000-seater Krestovsky Stadium, whereas Wembley stages the much-anticipated game between England and Scotland on June 18th.
Uefa’s executive committee will finalise the venue at Friday’s morning’s virtual summit. Having been forced to postpone the tournament by 12 months due to the pandemic, losing €100 million in the process, ticket revenue was uppermost in their priorities when presenting host cities with minimum spectator demands.
More than 2.5 million tickets had been already sold and Uefa are working off an average 50 per cent capacity across the tournament. Supporters who purchased tickets for the Dublin matches will have until Monday to apply for refunds.