Wembley set to host 2023 Champions League final to mark centenary year of opening of original stadium

4 Sep

Wembley will be confirmed as the host stadium for the 2023 Champions League final later this month, reports claim.

According to the Associated Press, the ground in north-west London has been selected for the European Cup final to mark the centenary year of the opening of the original Wembley in 1923.

Wembley holds 90,000 people and last hosted the Champions League final in 2013
Getty Images - Getty

The new Wembley has staged two Champions League finals since opening in 2006, with Barcelona beating Manchester United under the arch in 2011, and Borussia Dortmund losing to Bayern Munich in an all-German affair two years later.

Before the old Wembley was closed in 2000 it had hosted five European Cup finals, though had never staged one since the competition was rebranded as the Champions League in 1992.

The official announcement of Wembley being selected to host the 2023 final will be made later this month, at UEFA’s executive committee meeting in Ljubljana, Slovenia on September 24.

UEFA will also confirm the hosts for the 2021 and 2022 finals, with Zenit Saint Petersburg’s Gazprom Arena and Bayern’s Allianz Arena to stage each final respectively.

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The 68,000-capacity Gazprom Arena has never hosted a Champions League final, though it was used as a host stadium throughout last summer’s World Cup.

The Allianz Arena, opened in 2005, last staged the showpiece match in 2012, when Chelsea won their first European Cup by beating Bayern on their home turf.

Tottenham should play at Wembley for the rest of the season, claims Simon Jordan, amid further delays to the new stadium

9 Jan

Tottenham should suck up the ridicule and play at Wembley for the rest of the season, according to former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan.

Delays to the redeveloped White Hart Lane have continued after the club announced they will play four more fixtures at the national stadium.

It is the latest in a long string of setbacks to the new ground, which was supposed to open way back in September, and reports suggest it will not be ready until mid-March.

However, Jordan believes moving to the new stadium during this campaign would now risk derailing Tottenham’s fine season.

Tottenham’s new stadium was due to open in September 2018

“If they do [play in the new stadium this season], it would be a foolish thing to do,” Jordan told talkSPORT host Jim White.

“There are where they are right now: they’re 50% through the season, they’re in a successful season for a variety of reasons.

Confirmed Tottenham fixtures to be played at Wembley

13/01: Manchester United (Premier League)

30/01: Watford (Premier League)

02/02: Newcastle (Premier League)

10/02: Leicester (Premier League)

13/02: Borussia Dortmund (Champions League)

“They’re performing well in the Premier League, the cups and the Champions League.

“Clearly there are reasons behind this that we’re not entirely privy to. We had issues back at the beginning of the season when they were talking about ‘alarm testing’ and the ‘final phases’.

Tottenham may not be able to move into their new stadium until mid-March

“Now, four months after the event, this should be done and dusted.

“The idea of getting it open for the beginning of the season was a really tall order for them and they should just draw a line under it.

“Take the pain now, take the ridicule that’s going to come out because there will be segments of the media and their own fans that say it’s not good enough.

The club have confirmed four more fixtures to be played at Wembley

“But they are building a phenomenal stadium. I would just draw a line under it now and say: ‘we’ll play there next year’.”

Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has apologised for the latest delay and promised further updates within the next three weeks.

A statement read: “I should like to apologise to our fans and thank you for your continued patience.

“The response from those who attended the familiarisation event was great to hear and reinforced our commitment to deliver an exceptional matchday experience for everyone. We shall now seek clarity in respect of building test schedules and test event dates and provide further information on these in the next two to three weeks.”

Tottenham may be forced to wait until after the north London derby against Arsenal at the beginning of March before they open the arena, due to safety concerns.

Tottenham Hotspur stadium news: More Wembley misery for Spurs fans as key new policy is introduced

6 Nov

Tottenham Hotspur fans face further Wembley Stadium misery following the announcement of a stricter bag policy.

Due to travel to the stadium for games until at least the end of December after major delays to their new stadium, supporters, if they do not adhere to the conditions, could be denied entry to matches if they do not comply with the new restrictions.

Tottenham Hotspur supporters have received another Wembley blow.

Quietly announced on November 1, and starting on Thursday, November 15 when England play the United States in an international friendly, fans will only be able to take in carriers smaller than A4 in size.

The move is set to add further to the woes of Spurs fans who are fed up of the Stadium, which is already causing travel headaches, on top of several other gripes, with many now choosing not to attend matches.

This fan will no longer be able to take their backpack into Wembley.

Wembley believe the move will improve the experience for supporters, who are currently forced to line up for bag checks upon entering the stadium, but it will cause huge problems for travelling fans, and those heading to games following a day at work.

New Wembley Bag Policy

Bag to be no larger than A4

  • Height 297mm (11.7 inches)
  • Width 210mm (8.27 inches)
  • Depth 210mm (8.27 inches)

On the introduction of the new policy, fans will now have their bags searched at an ‘outer corden’, which could included an x-ray, before another check on both bag and the individual inside the stadium.

If there are any disputes a bag gauge will be used to confirm the size of the luggage.

If fans do require a bag larger than A4, for medical reasons or otherwise, they will have to contact Wembley prior to a matchday to get themselves a certificate.

Merchandise bought from a concession stand on the outer concourse or external stadium store will be sealed in a plastic bag because it is inside the security cordon and must not be broken until you are in the venue.

A similar policy for the NFL’s International Series in 2018 saw hundreds of fans have umbrellas confiscated on a rainy day leaving them without cover while queuing for Wembley Park station for over an hour.

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino confident Wembley pitch will be playable for Manchester City clash

26 Oct

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino expects the Wembley pitch to be in playable condition for their Premier League clash with Manchester City on Monday.

Spurs face the champions under the arch just 24 hours after the NFL match between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

Pochettino played down fears over the Wembley turf

Playing the game on Monday night was Tottenham’s only option as their new stadium is not ready, with the club today announcing further delays until 2019.

NFL games have left the Wembley turf in bad condition in the past, but the Spurs boss is confident the groundstaff can do a good job, though he joked it might benefit his team if they do not.

“Maybe it is good for us because we are going to face one of the best teams in Europe and the world in Manchester City and maybe it will help us,” he said. “It wasn’t a plan for us to play in that period at Wembley and now we cannot complain.

“Only we need to accept the reality and know that we cannot change that.

“We hope that the weather will be good and not kill the pitch and we can play in a very good condition.

Wembley will host the NFL on Sunday

“I am sure all the people that are involved in the pitch are going to work so hard to get it in a really good condition. That is my wish and I hope it can happen.”

The rearranged fixture comes just 48 hours before Spurs have to go to West Ham in the Carabao Cup and is one of five games in 12 days.

Pochettino accepts the packed schedule is in part due to their stadium delay and is not making excuses.

“That is not the ideal situation to compete, we have a problem, we create the problem and we need to sort the problem,” he added. “We can’t complain, we are a little bit unlucky that the stadium is not finished.

“It was not the plan to be at Wembley, different things can happen like the NFL and you cannot change the date and we need to accept that as reality and not complain.”

Guardiola will not alter his team selection

City boss Pep Guardiola accepts the solution is not ideal but will not hold back any players, including Kevin De Bruyne, who only made his first start after two months out injured in midweek.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, the City boss said: “It’s what it is. I’m pretty sure Tottenham have a good greenkeeper.

“I’m pretty sure the Premier League don’t like it, Tottenham too, but hopefully Tottenham can finish the stadium as quickly as possible. It’s not necessary to complain, we have to adapt quickly, try to figure it out. It will not be perfect but we have to adapt and play in that way.”

Tottenham stadium update: Spurs confirm remaining 2018 home games will be played at Wembley

26 Oct

Tottenham will not move into their new stadium until next year, as the club announce their remaining home games in 2018 will be played at Wembley.

Chairman Daniel Levy admits he doesn’t know when the redeveloped White Hart Lane will be ready, despite telling manager Mauricio Pochettino the club hoped to move in before Christmas.

Tottenham do net yet know when they will move into their new stadium

Spurs had originally planned to move into their new 62,062-seater stadium in September but construction issues have seen its opening continually pushed back.

Levy blamed missed deadlines by constructors and other uncontrollable factors for the latest delay.

It means the next possible moving-in day is January 13, when the club face Manchester United in the Premier League, four months after the stadium was due to open on September 15 against Liverpool.

There is also the possibility of a third-round FA Cup tie the weekend before if Spurs are drawn at home and the stadium is ready.

TOTTENHAM'S REMAINING HOME FIXTURES IN 2018

Manchester City – 29/10

PSV Eindhoven – 06/11

Chelsea – 24/11

Inter Milan – 28/11

Southampton – 05/12

Burnley – 15/12

Bournemouth – 26/12

Wolves – 29/12

Levy said in a statement: “There isn’t an hour that goes by when I am not asked when we will be able to stage our first game at our new home.

“I wish I was able to confirm an exact opening date and fixture. However, in light of factors completely outside of our control, contractors missing deadlines and possible future unforeseen issues, we are naturally being cautious in respect of our timetable for our test events and official opening game.

“Whilst we are conscious of the need to keep pressure on our contractors to deliver as soon as possible, we are also acutely aware of how difficult the lack of clarity is for you, our supporters, to plan around games, particularly those at Christmas and New Year.

Wembley will host the rest of Spurs’ home games in 2018

“In light of the above, and taking into account the restricted availability of manpower over the festive period, we have taken the decision to confirm today that all home games will be played at Wembley Stadium up to and including the game against Wolves on 29 December.”

Spurs will take a heavy financial hit from the delay – each game moved to Wembley results in 1/19 of season ticket costs being refunded to fans.

The club must also pay a rental fee to Wembley for every game played there, at a rate which gets more expensive game-by-game, while staffing costs could rise over the Christmas period.

Simon Jordan rants at the FA over Wembley Stadium sale and says bosses Greg Clarke and Martin Glenn MUST go

18 Oct

Simon Jordan has blasted the Football Association, saying theyreside over debacle over debacle’ after their plans to sell Wembley Stadium to Fulham owner Shahid Khan fell through.

American billionaire Khan had offered £600million to purchase the national stadium, a deal FA chairman Greg Clarke and chief executive Martin Glenn were said to be strongly in favour of.

The bosses had wanted to use the money to invest in grassroots and community football and boost public facilities up and down the country.

FA chairman Greg Clarke and chief executive Martin Glenn

However, Khan announced on Wednesday that he had withdrawn his offer on the grounds that only a minority of the FA Council were behind his takeover.

Jordan was also strongly against the idea of selling the Home of Football to foreign ownership.

But the former Crystal Palace owner sees the collapsed deal as just another failure under the tutelage of Clarke and Glenn and has called for both bosses to step down from their roles.

He told talkSPORT host Jim White on Thursday: “The FA reside over debacle over debacle.

“I think it’s difficult to make a case for Martin Glenn and Greg Clarke not to go.

“Khan is stepping away because it’s a mess, because he doesn’t want to be party to a mess, because Glenn and Clarke can’t sell it. They can’t get it across the line. They can’t take the easy route of selling an asset under value to fund a situation which, in part, has been created by the FA itself.

“Khan knows this is toxic right now, so he’s putting it back on the FA and saying, ‘get this mess sorted out and maybe I will come back and buy your stadium off you and do you a favour’.”

Listen to Simon Jordan’s rant against the FA and the sale of Wembley Stadium IN FULL above!

Wembley will not be sold after Fulham owner Shahid Khan withdraws offer to buy stadium, FA announce

17 Oct

Wembley will not be sold by the Football Association after Shahid Khan withdrew his offer to buy the stadium.

The Fulham owner had offered the FA £600million in cash for the stadium, as well as letting it keep the Club Wembley hospitality business, worth around another £300million.

Wembley will not be sold

FA chairman Greg Clarke and chief executive Martin Glenn were both strongly in favour of the deal and wanted to use the money to fix England’s dilapidated changing rooms, water-logged pitches and stretched 3G facilities.

They hoped Khan’s £600million could be the catalyst for a total investment in community facilities over the next 20 years of £3.3billion, more than double what the Football Foundation and Sport England have been able to do since 2000.

But in separate statements, Glenn admitted the proposed sale had been “more divisive than anticipated”, while Khan said it had become clear “there is no definitive mandate to sell Wembley and my current proposal, subsequently, would earn the backing of only a slim majority of the FA Council, well short of the conclusive margin the FA chairman has required”.

This has been on the cards ever since last week’s council meeting proved just how split football was on the idea, with some seeing it as a gilt-edged opportunity to solve one of football’s most expensive problems, while others likened it to selling the family silver and questioned the FA’s ability to invest the windfall wisely.

Football Association rubbish claims Martin Glenn wants to quit as CEO following controversy
Martin Glenn was in favour of the deal to sell Wembley

Glenn said: “We fully respect his decision. Mr Khan believed that his offer to buy Wembley Stadium would release funds to help improve community football facilities in England and that it would be well received by all football stakeholders.

“At a recent meeting with Mr Khan he expressed to us that, without stronger support from within the game, his offer is being seen as more divisive than it was anticipated to be and has decided to withdraw his proposal.

“Wembley Stadium is an iconic venue that is revered around world and it will continue to thrive under the ownership and direction of The FA.”

As well as having the support of the FA’s senior leadership, the proposed deal was backed by the government and the professional game, but there were significant doubts elsewhere, most notably at the grassroots level itself.”

In a statement, Khan said: “The intent of my efforts was, and is, to do right by everyone in a manner that strengthens the English game and brings people together, not divides them.

“Unfortunately, given where we are today, I’ve concluded that the outcome of a vote next week would be far from sufficient in expressing the broad support favoured by the FA Chairman to sell Wembley Stadium.

Khan felt the deal could not be done with split opinions

“Wembley is indeed a national treasure, one I would care for and respect for generations.

“I recognise the passion many people have for Wembley and what it means to English football, and will be willing to re-engage with the FA on this matter under proper circumstances.”

Khan had eventually hoped to use Wembley as a home for his NFL team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and was willing to agree to a number of highly restrictive conditions on how he would run the national stadium, most notably in terms of maintaining it as a venue for all of English football’s biggest games.

Khan’s decision to withdraw the offer has been described as a “huge disappointment” and a missed opportunity by two of the biggest sponsors of grassroots facilities.

The UK’s largest sports charity, the Football Foundation, would have been the vehicle the FA used to pick, manage and fund the projects, as it currently does with the funding it receives from the FA, Premier League and government.

In a statement, it said: “News that Mr Khan has decided to withdraw his offer to buy Wembley should come as a huge disappointment to community footballers everywhere.

“Football participation in this country is huge. Unfortunately, those who play the game, simply for the love of doing so and for the health benefits are having to put up with a stock of community football facilities that is in a shameful state.

“This would have been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make considerable inroads into probably the most pressing issue facing football in this country.”

Nick Bitel, the chair of Sport England, the government agency that funds grassroots sport, was more measured but his disappointment was equally plain.

“We agree with the view that the Wembley Stadium offer was a huge opportunity to boost funding into the development and maintenance of artificial and grass pitches up and down the country,” he said.

“Now that this deal is off the table, we hope the football family will now consider other ways the much-needed additional funds for grassroots facilities can be generated.”

Fulham will NOT be moved to Wembley if Shahid Khan completes purchase of national stadium

11 Oct

Fulham owner Shahid Khan has insisted the Premier League club will NOT be moved to Wembley if he completes his purchase of the national stadium.

The American billionaire has written to every Football Association councillor to assure them he has no intention of relocating the club from their famous Craven Cottage home.

Fulham will NOT be relocating to Wembley

Khan’s £900million offer for Wembley is being discussed by the 127-strong council on Thursday, with a significant number in the room still strongly opposed to the idea of selling the national stadium, even if the FA has pledged to spend the windfall on grassroots facilities.

Some of this opposition is emotional but some is based on concerns about Khan’s motives for buying the stadium, which was reopened in 2007 after a £757million rebuild, including a belief that he wants to base both his National Football League team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Fulham there.

Fulham’s former assistant director of football Craig Kline has resurfaced this week after his acrimonious exit from the club a year ago, claiming that Khan really plans to build luxury flats at Craven Cottage – an allegation Fulham has dismissed as “nonsense”.

In his letter, which was sent on Friday, Khan wrote: “When I was privileged to become chairman of Fulham in 2013, I immediately encountered rumours as to what this meant for the future of our home ground of Craven Cottage and, for that matter, the club itself.

Shahid Khan’s proposed purchase of Wembley Stadium was being discussed by the FA Council on Thursday

“My word at the time was I would invest in the club and the renovation of Craven Cottage so it would always be the lifetime and spiritual home of Fulham, but only in a manner that would be respectful of the neighbourhood while also delivering economic and quality of life benefits that would serve all Londoners every day of the year.

“Committing to doing the right thing, and then doing it right, was the only path I would consider.”

He then explained that “years of careful planning and communication with every stakeholder imaginable” will enable him to build a new Riverside Stand at the 122-year-old stadium, adding 5,000 to the ground’s current 25,000 capacity.

This experience, he wrote, proves that “a new era for Craven Cottage is on the horizon”, just as it could be for Wembley, a venue that has already fallen “a stage or two behind newer stadiums that have opened recently in Europe alone”.

Craven Cottage is one of the most beloved stadia in English sport

The FA’s chief financial officer Mark Burrows said much the same thing in a Wembley sale presentation to the bosses of county FAs on Tuesday, adding that selling the stadium would save the national governing body £72million in maintenance costs at Wembley.

Khan has spent millions upgrading the Jaguars’ current home in north Florida, which now has the two largest video screens in world sport, two swimming pools and a dog park for fans who want to bring their pets to the game.

“Wembley Stadium must be the global standard in every sense – technology, hospitality, the visitor experience, the athlete expectation and much more,” wrote Khan.

“As I’ve done with my investment in the NFL stadium in Jacksonville and we are about to see with Fulham and Craven Cottage, I will protect what we all agree is wonderful about Wembley Stadium and be steadfast, and respectful, in making sure the Wembley Stadium of the future will never have an equal.

TIAA Bank Field – Jacksonville Jaguars’ 67,000 capacity stadium

“I owe it to you to be a responsible owner and operator of Wembley Stadium, which under my guardianship will at all times be three things – the national stadium of England, the traditional home of English football, and one of the world’s finest venues for sport and entertainment.”

Khan’s letter finished with an offer to let a committee of FA councillors continue to play “a meaningful advisory role on all FA-related stadium matters” and wrote “it goes without saying that you and all FA Council members will always be welcomed as our guest for FA events at Wembley”.

The FA confirmed that a special meeting has been scheduled for October 24 for FA Council members to vote on the potential Wembley sale.

‘I’d be surprised if any good comes out of it’: Wembley whistleblower speaks to talkSPORT

11 Oct

After Fulham owner Shahid Khan dismissed claims of corruption relating to his attempted purchase of Wembley as ‘nonsense’, the man who made them has spoken to talkSPORT.

Craig Kline said: “Whatever people are hoping, whatever good is supposedly going to come from this deal, I would be surprised if that is the way it turns out.”

Wembley Stadium

Mr Kline worked for Shahid Khan for seven years, becoming Assistant Director of Football at Fulham until his acrimonious departure from the club in 2017.

In Tweets posted this week he claimed to possess a ‘paper trail’ of fraud in football, including ‘systemic corruption’ relevant to the sale of Wembley.

The FA has confirmed it is “in the process of reviewing these allegations” in light of a recent meeting with Mr Kline.

A spokesperson for Shahid Khan said: “This is nothing more than bogus claims made by a former employee who left the club in 2017. Nothing here merits a further response.”

The FA Council is today discussing the £600m offer for the national stadium from billionaire Mr Khan, who has promised to be a “responsible owner and operator”.

Mr Kline said: “I’d be surprised if the things being said now prove accurate in the long term.”

Craig Kline

At the time of his exit from Fulham Mr Kline, who had clashed with senior club executives, made several allegations about his colleagues to police, although these were dismissed.

But now, 11 months later and with the sale of Wembley to Mr Khan possibly imminent, he has spoken out again.

He told talkSPORT: “I have lots of relevant evidence, generally to the Wembley situation, but at this time I cannot name names because of a number of situations I’m dealing with.”

Mr Khan’s spokesperson described the claims as “ongoing nonsense” from Mr Kline.

Mr Kline claims he first reported his concerns to the Football Association in 2016. The FA confirmed to talkSPORT its Integrity Team had no record of his complaints. It also believes the correct channels are easily found.

Craig Kline insists the FA should have contacted him immediately after Shahid Khan’s bid for Wembley arrived on its desk in April.

He added: “I’m really curious as to what sort of vetting they have been doing. Nobody has reached out to me to investigate any of the things I have tried to bring forward.

“I have been an attorney for some of the people involved going back all the way to 2011. I have had dinner with many of these people, overheard an enormous number of conversations with many of these people. So I am very curious how the FA have decided not to follow up on this stuff.”

The FA Council is due to hear from Football Association executives today, who are supporting the sale of Wembley to Shahid Khan. It is understood the FA Council will vote on the proposal later this month.

Mr Khan owns NFL team the Jacksonville Jaguars and plans to relocate the franchise to London and host the Super Bowl at Wembley.

The FA Board and Sport England believe the stadium’s sale is in the best interests of British football as it would enable £600m to be invested in grassroots.

Sale of Wembley Stadium to Fulham owner Shahid Khan takes giant step as Football Association’s board votes unanimously in favour of proposal

27 Sep

Plans to sell Wembley Stadium to Fulham owner Shahid Khan has been unanimously backed by the Football Association’s board, the national governing body has announced.

The proposed deal, which is reportedly worth £600million in cash, with a further £300m in future revenue from the stadium’s hospitality business, will now go to the FA Council for its approval on October 11.

Shahid Khan is hoping the purchase of the national stadium will help him establish a NFL franchise in the UK

In a statement, an FA spokesperson said: “The sale of Wembley Stadium, the negotiated protections and an outlined plan to invest £600m into football community facilities, were presented and discussed at the FA Board meeting today.

“Following on from this discussion, the FA Board has agreed to take the presentation to the FA Council to get its input now that the full facts are known.”

Prior to the crunch meeting, it had been widely reported that the three board members from the National Game, or grassroots football, had strong reservations about the sale and the desired unanimity would be impossible, effectively killing the plan.

But their concerns appear to have melted away, which will greatly encourage FA chairman Greg Clarke and chief executive Martin Glenn, who have championed this idea for over a year, that they can get this over the line.

The FA have reportedly created a buy-back clause of £100m if it loses its elite status by UEFA

The terms of the deal have already been approved with Khan, who wants to use the stadium as a base for his National Football League side the Jacksonville Jaguars, and it has been backed by the government, professional leagues and public bodies that invested in Wembley’s rebuilding.

Under Khan’s ownership, the stadium would still be used, on a rental basis, for most of England’s home matches, all of the current club finals and semi-finals it stages and rugby league’s Challenge Cup final.

The only exception to the status quo would be that England would need to play its home games in September and November on the road, as they clash with the NFL’s regular season.

England’s last game against Switzerland was played at Leicester’s King Power Stadium

The American billionaire has also committed to maintaining the stadium as a possible venue for major international games, agreed to avoid sponsorship deals with gambling firms and other controversial businesses and given the FA buy-back and and sell-on clauses, should he fail to comply with conditions or sell at a later date for a profit.

The FA has already said it wants to use the windfall to invest up to £1billion in much-needed community facilities – new changing rooms, better drainage for grass pitches and more 3G pitches – and this will be done via the Football Foundation, the charity it set up in 2000 with the Premier League and Sport England to invest in the grassroots.