The Football Association has insisted Brexit will not derail its plans to hold the final stages of Euro 2020 at Wembley, hoping it will act as precursor to an England bid to host the 2028 European Championship.
Since the FA won the right to stage the 2020 semi-finals and final at Wembley as one of 12 venues for the tournament, which will be scattered across Europe under a plan drawn up by the former Uefa president Michel Platini, the UK has voted to leave the European Union.
But Martin Glenn, the FA chief executive, said any issues with the terms of the government guarantees required or conditions of entry for overseas visitors would be ironed out so that fans could travel to the semi-final and final as freely as possible.
Appearing at an event to unveil the Euro 2020 logo at London’s City Hall, Glenn pointed to the campaign of the mayor Sadiq Khan to convince the world that the capital remained open for business.
“You saw the hashtag ‘London is Open’. That’s the mayor’s initiative to show that London is open for business and football is a big part of it. We want as many people to come in as unfettered a way as possible so if that was an issue I’m sure we’d deal with it,” said Glenn.
“Government would not want to be seen to be the football prevention department. They are going to want foreigners to come over and feel happy, tourists to feel happy, they want to see a great tournament,” he added.
“Whatever Brexit involves, it’s not going to prevent tourists coming to Britain. I believe that common sense will have to break out in a massive proportion on that whole thing.”
The FA chairman, Greg Clarke, also said that the 2020 tournament could presage an England bid for the 2028 European Championship, but only if the FA board thought it likely to succeed.
“I think it would be a big ask to get Euro 2024 here four years after hosting the final in 2020,” Clarke said. “Certainly later on in the decade – we are reaching out to our friends in Uefa, the other nations, building relationships and friends and an ability to bid if we consider it appropriate.”
But he sounded a note of caution, recalling how £18m was wasted on the disastrous 2018 World Cup bid and said the FA would only commit if there was a genuine chance of winning.
“We have reviewed this a number of times and the board have decided we will look at bids on a case by case basis,” said Clarke. “If we decide we have a chance the board will look at it and we will have a go. If not we will spend the money on facilities.”
Khan sidestepped questions about London sharing hosting rights for 2020 with Baku, the Azerbaijan capital that caused a human rights storm when it held the first European Games in 2015. But he was upbeat about his recent trip to the US, when he said that he had made progress on persuading Major League Baseball to follow the lead of the NFL and the NBA in staging regular season matches at the former Olympic Stadium in London.
“What we’re discussing with Major League Baseball is for them to come here during the summer, which works for us for obvious reasons,” said Khan. “They are very excited and the commissioner is very keen. They’ve tried playing Major League Baseball in Australia. They were very receptive.
“The owner of the New York Mets was very receptive. We’re in discussions about MLB and we want MLB to come to London.”
Khan said he was confident that West Ham United’s teething troubles with the venue, now called the London Stadium, would be ironed out.
“I wish West Ham well in resolving the issues they’ve had. I’m sure they’ll sort it out. They want to do well in football terms but they also want their fans to have a good experience, as well as residents and businesses.”