Manchester United could be forced to play their upcoming Champions League home game against Young Boys in a neutral country over fears relating to the new Omicron variant of COVID-19.
The matchday six fixture, which will conclude the group stage for both clubs, is scheduled to be played on Wednesday 8 December at Old Trafford. However, potential travel restrictions imposed on Young Boys when they return to Switzerland could have knock-on effects.
In a bid to squash the spread of the Omicron variant, Switzerland has imposed strict 10-day quarantine rules on those entering the country from nations where the new strain has been detected. That includes the United Kingdom, where a third case was reported on Sunday.
The Daily Telegraph has reported that UEFA are seeking clarity from the Swiss government about whether the quarantine rules would apply to Young Boys after facing United.
If Young Boys are not exempt, the game could be moved to a neutral country.
The alternative to that if a venue cannot be arranged in time would be postponing it until a later date, which likely wouldn’t see the fixture played until some time early next year – the Champions League knockout stages don’t begin until mid-February.
Having to play at a neutral venue would see United miss out on matchday revenue. At least where the actual football is concerned, losing home advantage isn’t a huge blow as they are already assured of first place in the group as a result of a superior head to head record against Villarreal.
Whatever the result against Young Boys, United will top the group and be seeded in the draw for the first knockout round, automatically avoiding other group winners like Bayern Munich and Ajax.
Young Boys have much more to play for as, while they cannot progress in the Champions League, they can still ensure their season continues in the Europa League if they beat United and Atalanta lose at home against Villarreal in the group’s other game.