Wembley remains the final target for Barnsley

Barnsley will be playing for a place at Wembley next week after it was confirmed the Football League play-off finals will not have to be moved to accommodate a Champions League final.

Tykes head coach Valerien Ismael. Picture: Tony Johnson

Once European football’s showpiece became an all-English affair between Manchester City and Chelsea there was a great deal of lobbying for the May 29 match to be moved to England’s national stadium to avoid at least some of the logistical problems caused by Covid-19 but the Government’s unwillingness to bend to some of governing body Uefa’s demands means the game will now be played at the Estadio do Dragao in Porto instead.

Had the match taken place at Wembley the Championship play-off final due to be played the same day would have had to move from its traditional home.

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Barnsley face Swansea City in a two-legged semi-final on May 17 and 22 for the right to play Brentford or Bournemouth for promotion to the Premier League.

City and Chelsea were originally due to play in Istanbul but Turkey is on the UK Government’s “red list”, bringing quarantine restrictions for players and preventing English-based fans from travelling to the game, which will be played in front of a crowd.

The Government was thought to be willing to compromise on arrangements for players but not quarantine rules for Uefa staff, VIPs and sponsors.

Portugal is on the “green list”, meaning fans are free to travel, and players will not have to quarantine on their return, which for many would have disrupted their preparations for the European Championships, which begin on June 11.

Both clubs will have 6,000 tickets for the game, although the capacity is yet to be agreed. It had been due to be 24,000 in Istanbul.

It is the second year running Covid has seen the final moved from Turkey to Portugal.

Attendance for the play-off final is set to be capped at 10,000, with home supporters allowed into both legs of the semi-finals. Barnsley have held a ballot to decide who can attend their first leg at Oakwell. A maximum of 4,528 will be allowed, though the exact number will depend on the intricacies of bubbles and social distancing.

Barnsley twice played at Wembley in 2016, winning the Football League Trophy and League One play-offs.

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