This season’s Heineken Champions and Challenge Cup finals will not be played in Marseille after EPCR officials finally admitted defeat in trying to stick to their original plan to host the European showpieces in the French port city. The finals had initially been scheduled for last May.

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Despite the suspension of the European campaign due to the coronavirus pandemic outbreak, tournament officials had insisted during the layoff that the plan was to still host these games in Marseille. However, EPCR have now changed tack, explaining that the 2019/20 finals will be held at yet to be decided venues while also adjusting the finals schedule for future years. 

To ensure Marseille is not completely abandoned, officials have now stated that the 2020/21 finals will be held in the French city and the originally planned use of the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in London will be pushed back twelve months to instead host the 2021/22 finals. 

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A statement released on Thursday read: “Due to the many uncertainties created by the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been decided that the 2020 Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals will not now be held in Marseille as planned and the matches will be played at a new venue or venues. 

“With tens of thousands of fans scheduled to travel to the south of France, the board of EPCR and the local organising committee have agreed that insufficient safeguards are currently in place during the public health crisis to stage two high-profile matches at the 67,000-capacity Stade Velodrome.

“As a consequence, EPCR is currently working with its shareholder leagues and unions to secure an alternative venue or venues for the two finals which will be played on the weekend of October 16/17/18 and details will be announced as soon as practicable. 

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“As part of this adjustment to its future planning, EPCR is pleased to announce that Marseille will now host the 2021 Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals at the Stade Velodrome on the weekend of May 21/22, and that the matches at the 62,000-capacity Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London will be rescheduled for 2022.

“Tickets for this season’s finals will be valid for the 2021 weekend with no change to category or seating, and all ticket holders will be contacted by email within the next 48 hours with details of how to avail of a full refund if required.

“As previously communicated, the quarter-finals of both 2019/20 tournaments will be played on the weekend of September 18/19/20 with the semi-finals scheduled for the weekend of September 25/26/27. Exact dates, venues, kick-off times and TV coverage will be announced as soon as possible.

“As is now customary during the pandemic, the matches will be subject to government guidelines with the health and welfare of players, club staff, match officials, supporters and the wider rugby community to the fore.”

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2020 EPCR dates
Quarter-finals: weekend of September 18/19/20
Semi-finals: weekend of September 25/26/27
Heineken Champions Cup final: weekend of October 16/17/18 (venue TBC)
Challenge Cup final: weekend of October 16/17/18 (venue TBC)
Start of 2020/21 season: weekend of December 11/12/13

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