Tottenham announced today that, after reaching an agreement with UEFA, their first Champions League group match game of this season will take place at Wembley.
This follows the news coming out last week that Tottenham’s brand new 62,000 seat stadium will not be ready until as late as February 2019.
The first two group matches of the 2018/19 Champions League are set to take place in the weeks of September 17 and October 1, dates by which Tottenham’s stadium is unlikely to be finished.
Many fans are now asking whether that condemns Spurs’ entire European campaign to the floodlight of Wembley, as per UEFA rules.
UEFA guidelines state that “in principle, a club must play all its matches in the competition at one and the same venue”.
By the letter of the law, this would mean that after playing even one game at Wembley, Tottenham would have to then schedule every single Champions League match for the national stadium, even if their own stadium building is finished.
However, UEFA guidelines also state that: “If, at any time during the season, the UEFA administration deems that, for whatever reason, a venue may not be fit for staging a match, UEFA may consult the association and club concerned and ask them to propose an alternative venue, in accordance with the UEFA requirements…the UEFA administration takes a final decision on alternative match venues in due time
“The UEFA administration may grant an exception to a specific structural criterion for the stadium category in question in cases of particular hardship and upon reasoned request, for instance owing to the current national legislation or if the fulfilment of all the required criteria would force the club to play its home matches on the territory of another association.
“An exception can be granted for one or more matches in the competition or for the whole duration of the competition. Such decisions are final.”
It remains to be seen whether Tottenham will be able to get their new stadium finished before their European run comes to an end, but if they do, it looks as if a UEFA loophole may help fans see Champions League football in North London this season.
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