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Saturday night UEFA Champions League fever

Published: Saturday 22 May 2010, 13.57CET
The decision to switch the final from a Wednesday to a Saturday night has been a hit with supporters and broadcasters, and has benefited younger fans as well as tired players.
by Kevin Ashby
from Madrid
Saturday night UEFA Champions League fever
Bayern and Inter fans have benefitted from the switch to a Saturday final ©Getty Images
 
 
 
Published: Saturday 22 May 2010, 13.57CET

Saturday night UEFA Champions League fever

The decision to switch the final from a Wednesday to a Saturday night has been a hit with supporters and broadcasters, and has benefited younger fans as well as tired players.

It is not just the players who will benefit from playing the UEFA Champions League final on a Saturday, with fans, families and broadcasters also welcoming the move.

The decision to switch the final from its traditional Wednesday night slot was taken at a UEFA Executive Committee meeting in November 2007, and will come to fruition tonight when FC Bayern München take on FC Internazionale Milano in front of a sell-out crowd at the Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid.

It was hoped that a Saturday evening kick-off would give families, especially children, the chance to be part of club football's biggest match.

Fernando Hierro, captain of the Real Madrid teams which won the UEFA Champions League in 1998, 2000 and 2002, can see the physical benefits for players – especially as both Bayern and Inter only completed their domestic programmes last weekend.

"Having a full week off before the final gives the players the chance to get rid of their weariness and muscle problems," said Hierro on Wednesday at an event to celebrate UEFA Grassroots Day. "It gives them the time to recover."

Another former Madrid player, Michael Laudrup, added: "It's the first time in the history of the UEFA Champions League that the final will be played on a Saturday. I think this is much better because people are coming on the Friday or even the day of the game and they can go back home on Sunday. Before it was a case of maybe taking three days off work or school whereas now people have the whole week to prepare their trip."

And as for the fans themselves? Armin Biertz drove 17 hours from Cologne with his 12-year-old son Cedric to be here to support Bayern and the youngster, decked out in the red and white of his club just like his father, knows full well he would not have been allowed to make the trip on a weekday.

"Wednesday is a schoolday so we would not have been able to come," he said. "I'm so happy to be here. It's great." Armin was thrilled to be able to share the experience with his son. "I'm overwhelmed," he said. "Cedric said last year that he wanted to go to the Champions League final so this is a dream come true."

Last updated: 23/05/10 0.12CET

Related information

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/news/newsid=1491273.html#saturday+night+uefa+champions+league+fever

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