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Zenit sign Bart Simpson

The Toe Poke 3 hours ago
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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 15, 2011

Community Shield to stay in England

The 2012 Community Shield will be played in England even though Wembley Stadium will not be available.

Confirmation of the competition dates for the 2012 London Olympics revealed the prestigious men's football final will be played at Wembley on Saturday, August 11.

That is 24 hours before the Community Shield should take place, given the Premier League is due to get under way the following weekend, having been delayed to avoid a clash with the Games.

As the Olympics do not conclude until August 12, the London organising committee have reached an agreement with the FA that the game will not be played in the capital, leaving them to find another venue for the annual clash between the Premier League champions and FA Cup winners.

There had been some speculation the FA would use the opportunity to take the game overseas, as happened last season with the Italian Super Cup - the clash between Inter and Lazio in Beijing proving so successful, a deal has been signed for the game to be held in China for the next four years.

Given the vast following for English football around the globe, there would certainly be a financial incentive to pursue such an avenue with the Community Shield. However, the FA have confirmed that will not happen.

"The Community Shield take place at the traditional time at a prestigious stadium in England,'' said an FA spokesman.

Cardiff's Millennium Stadium would normally be the obvious choice, as it held the Community Shield for six seasons from 2001, but the men's third-place play-off will be played at the stadium on Friday, August 10 and it seems turning the stadium round to host another prestigious event, with completely different sponsors, in just over 36 hours would be too problematic.

It leaves Old Trafford as the firm favourite given its last Olympic game is the men's semi-final on Tuesday, August 7.

Neutrality may be an issue considering Manchester United have featured in 14 of the last 18 such occasions but the massive increase in capacity, compared with alternatives such as St James' Park, the Stadium of Light, Eastlands, Anfield and Villa Park, Old Trafford is bound to hold appeal.

Any suggestion that Twickenham, the home of English rugby, whose 82,000 capacity is exceeded only by that of Wembley, could have been used were dismissed due to sensitivities towards local residents and the cost involved with segregating rival supporters even before the agreement not to hold the game in London.

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