Chelsea will be forced to play both legs of their UEFA Women’s Champions League quarter-final against VfL Wolfsburg in Hungary according to reports on the German club’s official website.
The Blues were set to host the German champions at Kingsmeadow next week in the first leg before travelling to Wolfsburg for the return leg a week later.
It has been reported that COVID-19 travel restrictions will mean that the away leg will not be able to be staged in Germany, however, it has also been suggested that Chelsea will surrender home advantage for the first leg and will be forced to play that fixture on neutral territory.
Sources at VfL Wolfsburg have this evening confirmed that both legs will be staged at the Szusza Ferenc Stadion in Budapest, meaning that Chelsea will be forced to fly more than 4,000 miles to contest the two legs of their quarter-final tie, almost double the distance that the Germans will need to travel. The first leg is set to take place on Wednesday 24 March (kick-off 4pm) while the return leg will be played at the same venue on Wednesday 31 March (kick-off 1pm).
Chelsea are likely to be frustrated with the scenario with Emma Hayes’ side also scheduled to play key Barclays FA Women’s Super League fixtures against Aston Villa and Birmingham City just four days after each leg. The choice of neutral venue is not only something of a handicap against their title push, it is also an additional hurdle to clear in their bid to reach a first UEFA Women’s Champions League final with the difference in travelling distance between The Blues and VfL Wolfsburg being far from equal. There is also an argument over whether there is the need for two neutral legs rather than playing a one-off tie with the decision likely to prove costly for both clubs and result in unnecessary doubling of travel during a world health pandemic.
The South West Londoners are yet to comment on the venue change with the decision seemingly having only been made this evening.