Wembley is home to the final of the Champions’ League for the second time in a few short years, and as German rivals Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund prepare to contest the greatest club final in the world, it’s interesting to contemplate what their fans will think of how the English host this great event. Last year in Munich, the atmosphere was party-like, doubtlessly enhanced by the fact that the home club was actually in the final. This year, may be a little different.
It would be wrong to look back at last year through ‘blue-tinted glasses’ but it is true to say that the cold German beer was matched by the warm welcome of the hosts, the good food and reasonable accommodation available, plus reliable transport links. London has a lot to live up to.
Wembley stadium itself still has the splendour of novelty about it, and could probably stand comparison to almost any modern stadia around the world. Unfortunately, it is outside of the ground that the glitter diminishes somewhat. Its position located in what has often been termed to be ‘in the middle of an industrial estate’ is hardly inspirational, and the infrastructure around it also looks likely to disappoint.
Whilst parts of the capital are well-renowned – and rightly so – for some of the finest and most diverse eateries in the world, the local food outlets around the stadium are somewhat less salubrious. The ubiquitous fish and chip opportunities will rub shoulders with kebab vendors, doubtless at inflated prices, and the warm beer in the local bars may not be to the requirements of the German palette. Accommodation may also be a little interesting if sourced locally. Clearly there is a lot of choice if you travel a little further, but then the transport issue comes to the fore.
It’s all well and good to paint the Wembley picture in shades of green as promoting public transport to and from the site, but when those links are less efficient and reliable than required, the whole shebang just appears to be a shambles. Brought up on Teutonic efficiency, there may be a few incredulous German anguishes come the end of the game.
The stadium will show itself off to the world as being all bright and gleaming, and the game promises to be richly entertaining. It’s probably as well though that the vast television audience tuned in will only see the bright lights. As the fans drift away, post-game it would be interesting to know what they think of how the English have treated the home of football.