Fan demand forces UEFA to switch Youth League finals to Stade de Genève

April 18 – UEFA has shifted the finals of its UEFA Youth League from the 7,200-capacity Colovray Sports Centre, Nyon, to the 30,000-capacity Stade de Genève.

UEFA said the venue change was made “following unprecedented interest from fans” and the subsequent “need for a venue with increased operational capacities”.

Sporting CP (Portugal), AZ Alkmaar (Netherlands) Hajduk Split (Croatia) and AC Milan (Italy) will meet in the finals April 21-24. None of the clubs have won the finals before.

The UEFA Youth League is an U-19 club competition first introduced in 2013-14 as a two-year trial at the request of the European Club Association with the aim to develop youth football at professional club level and reduce the gap between youth and first teams.

The competition was immediately a hit with clubs. The format sees each each of the UEFA Champions League group stage clubs entered their U19 sides with a group and match schedule that mirrors the senior competition.

For the 2015-16 season a second path was created with 32 national youth champions competing in a knockout competition for a chance to play-off with the group runners-up to join the group winners in the knockout phase.

AZ Alkmaar and Hajduk Split both made their way to the final four through the domestic champions route. Only three clubs have previously come through that route to the semis – Anderlecht in 2015-16, eventual champions Salzburg in 2016-17 and Chelsea in 2018-19.

Benfica are the current champions, having twice made the final before winning the title in 2021-22 after the competition was cancelled in 2020-21 due to the pandemic.

UEFA Youth League finals schedule:

Friday 21 April: Semi-finals

Sporting CP vs AZ Alkmaar

Hadjuk Split vs AC Milan

Monday 24 April: Final

Previous winners:

2013/14: Barcelona (runners-up: Benfica)
2014/15: Chelsea (Shakhtar)
2015/16: Chelsea (Paris)
2016/17: Salzburg (Benfica)
2017/18: Barcelona (Chelsea)
2018/19: Porto (Chelsea)
2019/20: Real Madrid (Benfica)
2020/21: season cancelled
2021/22: Benfica (Salzburg)

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