UEFA targets Champions League final outside Europe

By The Citizen

The Champions League final could be played outside of Europe, says new UEFA President, Aleksander Ceferin.

The Slovenian will revive an open bidding process to host the final, and is open to it being staged in New York.

'It might be an idea but we have to speak about it,' said Ceferin, who was named head of European football's governing body last month.

The 61 finals have all been held in Europe but Ceferin said travel to the US would be 'no problem' for fans.

He added: 'To go from Portugal to Azerbaijan for example is almost the same or the same as if you go to New York. It's a European competition so let's think about it.'

As it stands, UEFA awards the finals without any tendering process, with stadium hosts decided in secret by the leadership.

'The bidding process should be very clear because if you get the Champions League finals or Europa League finals as a political favour then it's not OK,' Ceferin said.

The former Slovenian Football Association chief said he would not sacrifice the competition's success by changing kick-off times, usually 19:45 BST, to suit worldwide markets.

'From a financial point of view it's not ideal,' Ceferin said.

'We should think also about other markets, but how to do it exactly I'm not sure yet. China is financially interesting and the US is not just financially interesting, but football is growing there.'

The Champions League final has been played on a Saturday since 2010 and is the competition's only game not played in midweek.

Ceferin said one idea to increase viewers would be to also move the semi-finals to a weekend.

'There are some ideas about that - China is not asleep because it's Saturday and they can watch,' he said.

'But there are many problems concerning that with the calendar of the leagues. National leagues are too important. You have the Premier League which is very strong.'