UEFA pick preferred venue for Leipzig-Liverpool tie as Reds barred from Germany

Liverpool's Champions League visit to Leipzig has been switched to a neutral venue.

After lengthy talks with UEFA, the German government refused to allow any exemptions for elite athletes, to a mandate banning entry on all arrivals into the country, from areas affected by Covid-19 mutations until at least February 17.

That means the English club will be banned from entering Germany on the original date scheduled for the first leg, which is February 16.

UEFA responded by naming Buadpest’s Puskas Arena as their mandated alternative venue, but have given Leipzig dispensation to find an alternative acceptable to the governing body and the German government.

That means Liverpool will have to wait to learn where they will be travelling for the game, with the Reds due to fly in just 11 days time.

It is understood discussions also took place over a possible switch for the tie, allowing the first leg to be staged at Anfield on February 16, with the return in Germany on March 10.

But there are no guarantees the current German restrictions will be lifted by March, and could even be tightened.

Leipzig will now be given time to look at alternative venues, in countries which have no recorded cases of the UK Covid mutation.

A statement from the German government confirming their decision to ban Liverpool’s entry read: "The Corona Protection Ordinance passed by the German government last Friday provides for only a few exceptions and no special regulations for professional athletes.

"The Federal Police informed the club RB Leipzig today that the described case constellation does not fall under the exceptions."

UEFA could still decide that the tie is played in a single game in a neutral venue, but the indications from Europe’s governing body so far suggest that they want to maintain the two leg format for as long as possible, and will push ahead on a two legged tie.

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