London football party zones plan for Champions League final but not Trafalgar Square after 'drunken chaos'

Football fans in Trafalgar Square  (PA)
Football fans in Trafalgar Square (PA)

Huge football fan zones screening the Champions League final are being planned for central London — but the match will not be shown in Trafalgar Square after the “drunken chaos” of the Euro 2020 tournament.

The Greater London Authority has applied to close roads next to Embankment station, between Westminster and Blackfriars bridges, including Villiers Street and Victoria Embankment Gardens, as well as a large section of Hyde Park, before the game at Wembley on June 1.

Up to 30,000 people will be able to enjoy “bands and live entertainment” on Victoria Embankment and MOD gardens before large screens show the match at 8pm.

Another 20,000 will be able to gather in Trafalgar Square for drinks and food but there will be no screening of the football there over fears of disorder.

The move comes after a review into disorder around the delayed UEFA European Football Championship final at Wembley found the police were denied a key crowd management tool with the absence of fan zones.

If the Champions League Festival is granted a licence by Westminster council this week, it leaves the door open for more major street parties for the 2024 Euros tournament two weeks later.

However, some residents and nearby businesses have raised concerns about roads being closed off and the area being flooded with football fans after “terrifying” previous events.

In July 2021 overjoyed England revellers spilled out of the Trafalgar Square fan zone and scaled buses and buildings when England beat Denmark in the delayed Euro 2020 semi-final.

Ahead of the final with Italy crowds gathered in central London again, with some supporters filmed openly taking class A drugs and one man famously pictured placing a lit flare up his backside while being cheered on by crowds.

Later in the day 2,000 ticketless fans stormed Wembley stadium, creating a situation where people could have been killed, a review by Dame Louise Casey found.

In documents submitted to Westminster council, one residents group said: “Previous events have taken place which have caused significant disruption and damage to both [Trafalgar] Square itself and the buildings on its borders.

“The cost, both in time and money in rectifying damage from previous events has been significant.

“By way of example, the 2021 final of the UEFA European Football Championship resulted in six figures’ worth of damage to St Martin-in-the-Fields Church.”

Another resident said: “Given England’s successes that summer, I was delighted when I was invited as a guest to watch the screening of the final in Trafalgar Square.

“On arrival in Trafalgar Square, all appeared to be safe however prior to kick off I personally saw fans without tickets trying to break into the fan zone and glass bottles being thrown from outside the barriers... we were terrified.

“The police and on-site event management staff had little to no control of the events and their only advice was to move a bit further forward. When it became clear during the penalties that England might not win, our fears increased.

“The situation was capable of changing very quickly in the event of a loss and I distinctly remember having to sprint from the fan zone down towards Lambeth Bridge for our own personal safety.”

A spokesman for LS Events, which has been contracted to manage the event, said: “We understand the concern surrounding damage to the property after the Men’s Euros.

“The Champions Festival on Trafalgar Square will be very different to that event in that we will not be screening the match.

“We are putting all mitigations in place where possible with stewarding and infrastructure, as approved by the Metropolitan Police.”

LS Events, which also organises the British Summertime concerts in Hyde Park, added: “These fan meeting points are going to be family friendly and we will have a good mix of fans young and old coming to enjoy the entertainment through the day and the screening of the match in the evening.

“Each fan meeting place is only advertised and communicated to the fans of one club and will not be advertised as a place for other fans to come to.”

The creation of “fan meeting points came from the Baroness Casey Report”.

“The inquiry was a full review of the shortcomings of the management of fans for the final and one of the recommendations was to ensure that in future, there should be fan meeting points to create safe and managed areas to host ticketed and unticketed fans around the match.”

Westminster council is set to discuss the licences for the Champions League Festival on Thursday.