UEFA awards Wembley European Cup final – again

London must be able to stage major sports events reasonably well, after UEFA today confirmed that Wembley will stage the 2013 Champions League final – just 24 months after the National Stadium hosted the 2011 showdown between Barcelona and Manchester United.

UEFA has awarded the London venue its seventh European Cup final to help mark the Football Association’s 150th anniversary.

The UEFA executive committee meeting in Nyon today also confirmed that the UEFA Congress will be held in London in the days leading up to the 2013 final.

The decision represents a glowing endorsement for the work put in by the London tourist agency and the Mayor of London’s office in staging a week-long football festival, the women’s Champions League final and other associated events last month, and will be seen as a useful confidence-booster for their partners at LOCOG ahead of next year’s Olympic Games. Record ticket and commercial sales will also have helped UEFA form their decision.

“UEFA viewed the 2011 Champions League final at Wembley as a major success and today they have paid us the ultimate compliment by announcing that they will return to our national stadium in 2013, the year of The FA’s 150th anniversary,” David Bernstein, the FA chairman, said.

“It will be a major celebration of football in this country during a landmark year for our organisation and is an acknowledgment of Wembley’s status as one of the very best football stadiums in the world,” Bernstein said.

“There are always many candidates for the Champions League final and the Congress but this is to mark the special year of the English FA,” said Michel Platini, the European football body’s president.

Earlier this year, Platini was criticised for the match’s high ticket prices, with the cheapest seats costing £176 – including the £26 “administration fee” – 13 per cent more than for the 2009 final. Platini has pledged cheaper tickets in future.

The award is a coup for 90,000 capacity Wembley, and may assist the FA towards paying off its multi-million loans on the cost of building the £900 million stadium that re-opened in 2007. However, the European showpiece’s new Saturday final format will again present the FA and Football League with a challenge for their fixture planning, as the end-of-May dates may provide another clash with the play-offs weekend.

And by awarding Wembley two Champions League finals in such a short space of time, it will also limit the opportunities for other British stadiums of staging future European finals, including for the UEFA League, for several years.

Wembley has previously staged the European Cup finals in 1963, 1968, 1971, 1978, 1992 and last month when, Barcelona beat United 3-1.

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