UEFA has given the green light for Manchester City’s Champions League last-16 second leg against Real Madrid to be played behind closed doors at the Etihad Stadium.
Image Copyright – Steve Haag Sports
While confirming that all remaining continental matches will be played at empty stadiums, European football’s governing body said every outstanding second-leg game will take place at the home team’s ground.
Pep Guardiola’s City will be breathing a sigh of relief at the UEFA Executive Committee’s decision, which means they can step out on home turf against Real Madrid after winning 2-1 in February’s last-16 first leg at the Bernabeu.
The ongoing impact of coronavirus will see the Champions League quarter-finals, semi-finals and final all held at a mini-tournament behind closed doors in Portugal.
A UEFA statement read: “Consistent with the principle of sporting fairness and considering that current conditions – all clubs due to play at home the return leg of the round of 16 are currently playing the remaining matches of their domestic leagues in their own stadiums and that travelling is possible without restrictions for the visiting clubs – the UEFA Executive Committee decided that the remaining UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League Round of 16 second-leg matches will be played at the home teams’ stadiums.”
The decision means that Wolves will be able to play the return leg of their Europa League round-of-16 encounter with Olympiacos at Molineux after the first fixture ended 1-1.
Manchester United can wrap up progress to the Europa League last eight tournament in Germany at an empty Old Trafford, having romped to a 5-0 triumph at LASK back in March.
Other British clubs will be hitting the road in August.
Chelsea head to Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich trailing 3-0 in their Champions League round-of-16 tie, while Rangers also head to Germany to face Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League after losing 3-1 at Ibrox.
Inter Milan and Getafe, and Sevilla and Roma both had their Europa League last-16 first legs postponed, so those ties will be completed as a single leg in Germany before the final eight tournament.
The draw for the remaining rounds of that competition and the Champions League are to be made on Friday in Nyon, ahead of which UEFA has decided that no fans will be at European matches for the remainder of the season.
A UEFA statement read: “On 17 June 2020, the UEFA Executive Committee decided to postpone the decision on whether the upcoming UEFA matches would be able to accommodate supporters or would have to be held behind closed doors, in order to monitor the evolution of the situation and the measures taken by local authorities on mass gatherings and attendance at sports events.
“Several elements were taken into account by UEFA when making a decision, such as the protection of the health of all those involved in the matches as well as the public at large; a responsibility to provide the safest environment for matches in order to guarantee the progress of competitions; as well as ensuring sporting fairness within a very inconsistent landscape (with some countries allowing and some forbidding stadium attendances).
“Consequently, in light of the current situation, the UEFA Executive Committee felt it prudent to conclude that UEFA matches should take place behind closed doors until further notice.
“This decision was made in agreement with the national associations and authorities of the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League, 2019/20 UEFA Europa League and 2019/20 UEFA Women’s Champions League final eight tournaments’ hosts Portugal, Germany and Spain.
“This restriction will also apply to the remaining matches in the 2019/20 UEFA Youth League.”
UEFA confirmed the decision will apply to all such matches played over one leg, including the qualification phase of next season’s Champions League and Europa League, and pledged to “monitor the evolution of the situation and advise on any full or partial lifting of restrictions at the appropriate time”.
European football’s governing body has also approved a Return to Play Protocol, while it confirmed that video assistant referees’ implementation in the Europa League group stage will be postponed until the 2021-22 season given the impact of the Covid-19 situation.