Health Secretary Matt Hancock has moved to play down a report that the UK has offered to host the entirety of this summer’s rescheduled UEFA European Championships.
A report in the Sunday Times yesterday claimed that Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has informed UEFA that the COVID-19 vaccination rate in the UK would enable fans to return to stadiums sooner than in other European countries.
London’s Wembley Stadium is due to host all three of England’s Euro 2020 group-stage matches, along with a last-16 fixture, both semi-finals and the final. Glasgow’s Hampden Park is also scheduled to host matches at the tournament.
The Sunday Times, citing government sources, reported that the UK would “respond positively” if asked by UEFA to take on more matches. The report came after official figures released by the government on Saturday said that over 17 million people had received the first dose of their COVID-19 vaccine.
However, Hancock has cooled talk of an offer from the UK to host all matches at Euro 2020. When asked about the report on Sky News, he said: “I haven’t seen anything on that. I understand that that’s not right.”
Euro 2020, which has been postponed by 12 months due to the pandemic, is scheduled to take place in 12 cities: London, Glasgow, Dublin, Bilbao, Amsterdam, Munich, Rome, Copenhagen, Budapest, Bucharest, Saint Petersburg and Baku.
UEFA has repeatedly said it is committed to retaining its 12-city hosting model for the tournament, which will take place from June 11 to July 11. UEFA said last month that all parties “recognise the need for flexibility” around the decisions that will be made on arrangements for the tournament, adding that the deadline for the submission of plans to accommodate fans has been moved to early April.
Last week, it was reported that the finals of the FA Cup and Carabao Cup at Wembley were being considered as test events for the return of fans in England ahead of the potential wider roll-out of spectators during the summer.
The final of this season’s Carabao Cup has already been pushed back until April, two months later than initially planned, in the hope that more fans will be able to attend. The match had initially been due to take place at Wembley on February 28 but will now be held on April 25, while the FA Cup final will be held on May 15.