England is expected to be a frontrunner to take on more Euro 2020 matches this summer amid mounting doubt over host cities due to Covid-19.
Uefa remains committed to holding the tournament across Europe, but senior footballing figures accept a minority of the 12 venues may yet be forced to drop out.
Among them is Baku, where slow ticket sales and political instability have added to fears the remote Azerbaijan city – where Wales are due to play – is untenable.
The Telegraph can reveal any additional games in England could be played in the north instead of Wembley amid Government ambitions to bring the tournament to other parts of the country.
Ahead of a key meeting in March to finalise tournament plans, Europe’s governing body is increasingly confident that both London and Glasgow will be ready due to the UK’s relative success in rolling out the vaccine.
However, with each of the 12 countries told to confirm its plan for supporters in the coming weeks, plans elsewhere are far from certain.
Two major European football figures – Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Swiss Football Association President Dominique Blanc – have separately expressed concern in recent days that the 12-city format is doomed.
According to reports in Germany, Rummenigge says Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin “is thinking about whether it wouldn’t make more sense… to play the tournament in just one country”.
Blanc, meanwhile, was first to go on record raising the prospect of London hosting more games as he said that picking “a metropolis with enough stadiums” would help control risk. Both those theories were played down by Uefa last night. Whitehall sources say, meanwhile, that if England was handed more games, they would be held elsewhere in the country.
Over the coming weeks the host cities must file detailed plans for four different scenarios – full stadiums, 50 per cent capacity, 20 to 30 per cent capacity or behind closed doors. In a signal Uefa was readying itself for venues being moved, the governing body announced ticket-holders would get refunds if fixtures were moved beyond 50 kilometres of the original stadium.
Nominations for any changes in venue must be lodged by spring, and English FA sources recognise it could be in a strong position to take on more matches. There could be complications, however, in agreeing to any Government edict to go north as major venues may be booked up or resurfacing pitches.
The Women’s Euros is being staged at Old Trafford so would be a likely preferred option if a second English venue was adopted.
Wembley is already set to host group-stage matches, the semi-finals, and final. The plans include England’s three group games – including against Scotland – and sources close to the governing body said excitement is growing that the tournament could be a “real moment” if, as hoped, 30,000 fans are allowed in.
The competition, proposed to be held across 12 cities in 12 different countries, was postponed by…
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