More than 60,000 fans will be allowed to attend the semi-finals and final of Euro 2020 at Wembley with attendance increased to 75% of capacity, the British government announced on Tuesday.
The matches will see the largest crowds assembled at a sporting event in Britain in more than 15 months, with numbers previously strictly limited due to the coronavirus pandemic.
All ticket holders will need to follow a number of strict entry requirements, including having a negative Covid-19 test or proof of full vaccination.
“We have worked extremely closely with Uefa and the FA (Football Association) to ensure rigorous and tight public health measures are in place whilst allowing more fans to see the action live,” said culture and sport secretary Oliver Dowden.
“The finals promise to be an unforgettable moment in our national recovery from the pandemic.”
Britain is looking forward to staging a “fantastic” Euro 2020 final, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said Tuesday, in a clear hint the matches will take place at Wembley despite issues around coronavirus restrictions.
Talks are still ongoing between Uefa, the government and the Football Association over a solution that would mean up to 2,500 VIPs could attend the showpiece match on July 11.
It is understood a deal is close to being struck that would keep some restrictions in place for the select group and Uefa is not currently considering a move to Budapest, which had been floated as a possibility.
“Uefa, the English FA and the English authorities are working closely together successfully to stage the semi-finals and final of Euro 2020 in Wembley and there are no plans to change the venue for those games,” said a statement from European football’s governing body.
Prime Minister Johnson’s official spokesman gave an upbeat message on Tuesday but declined to confirm whether an agreement had already been made with Uefa.
“We’re looking forward to putting on a fantastic semi-final and final at Wembley and will do so safely and securely,” he said.
The Puskas Arena in the Hungarian capital was floated as a potential alternative should the matches not be able to go ahead in London, while Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi also suggested Rome could step in.
He voiced concerns over the increase in coronavirus infections in Britain.
The highly contagious Delta variant, first detected in India, has fuelled a spike in new cases in Britain and forced the government to delay planned reopenings.
The government has a difficult path to tread, with any decision to ease the rules for UEFA officials likely to prove controversial.
Britons’ ability to travel on holiday has been restricted by rules enforcing a strict period of self-isolation or quarantine on their return.
England take on the Czech Republic at Wembley on Tuesday and the stadium in northwest London is also set to host five knockout games, including both semi-finals and the final.