London (AFP) – The two clubs contesting the richest game in English football have pleaded with authorities to let more fans in for Saturday’s Championship play-off final at London’s Wembley Stadium.
Brentford and Swansea will meet to decide which club claims the remaining place in next season’s lucrative Premier League, with the showpiece match worth some £180 million ($254 million) to the winners.
But, as things stand, the match will be played in front of a maximum crowd of 10,000 spectators because of Covid-19 regulations, compared to the 21,000 allowed in Leicester’s FA Cup final win over Chelsea at the home of English football earlier this month.
Jon Varney, the chief executive of west London club Brentford, slammed the decision as “unjustifiable”, saying in a joint statement: “We feel it is unjust that only a few days ago, more than 20,000 fans were admitted to the FA Cup final and advanced discussions were taking place for Wembley to host the Champions League final with a similar number of fans attending.
“We find it incredulous and unjustifiable that the Championship play-off final will be restricted to just half that number.”
Both teams are set to be restricted to just 4,000 fans as their teams compete for a place in the top flight of the English game.
Julian Winter, the chief executive of Welsh club Swansea, who’ve long played professional football in England’s league system, said: “The FA Cup final recently hosted over 20,000 spectators which helped generate a fantastic atmosphere for both teams — something which has been sorely missed over the past 14 months.
“Supporters are the lifeblood of the game we all love, and it is such a shame that more of them cannot be at Wembley to cheer on their team in what will be a brilliant occasion for all those clubs involved in the play-off final weekend.”