The date of the Copa del Rey final to be played between Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona has already been confirmed – May 30th. But the location of the event has yet to be determined.
Unlike most European countries, Spain does not boast a national stadium to showcase the prestigious cup competition, and the only prerequisite set forth by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) is for potential venues to have a seating capacity of 50,000 or more.
There are only seven stadiums in Spain which meet this criteria: the Santiago Bernabeu, Camp Nou, new San Mames, Mestalla, La Cartuja, Montjuic and the Vicente Calderon – the last two venues have been ruled out of hosting the Copa del Rey final because concerts by AC/DC at both stadiums take place close to May 30th.
As it stands now, the RFEF has only received two formal requests to hold the final: one from Valencia (who offered the use of the Mestalla) and another from Athletic Bilbao (the new San Mames).
But most believe when the Federation makes its final decision next week – after meeting with representatives of Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona – the choice for the location of the Copa del Rey final will be the Santiago Bernabeu.
The home of Real Madrid is the clear favorite to host the event despite not having submitted a request to do so. It is also understood both participants favor playing the final at the Bernabeu.
Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu all but ruled out using the Camp Nou because it would provide one team with a distinct advantage (the same could be said if the final were played at the new San Mames).
“We’ll see what the Federation have to say but we are always in favor of the option which offers the largest capacity; and we don’t like the idea of the final being at the Camp Nou because no likes to play these kind of games at their own stadium – or even their own city,” Bartomeu said.
“One of the attractions of the Cup final is that fans have to travel to other cities, as long as it is not too far for them.”
While Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde stated he is open to staging the event at the Bernabeu because it is the most “appealing” option. He also believes the Mestalla (Valencia’s home ground) may not be large enough to accommodate both sets of fans.
Real Madrid officials and fans won’t like the idea of their most bitter rivals, Barcelona, potentially lifting the King’s Cup at the Santiago Bernabeu. That thought will likely have executives scrambling for reasons to have the final played at another venue – much like in 2012 when Madrid turned down an offer to stage the event, arguing it would interfere with construction work which was due to take place at the stadium.
That season Barcelona were also scheduled to play in the final against Athletic Bilbao.
In the end, the decision on the location of the final will be up to the Federation. But there is a reason it might not be held at the Bernabeu – the venue could already be in use.
Depending on how the next few months unfold, Real Madrid Castilla may have a playoff match to determine promotion to the Segunda Division on May 30th (the same date of the Copa del Rey final), and in the past the club has traditionally opened the doors of the Bernabeu to the reserve side for these matches (2005 and 2011). This could be Real Madrid’s way out of hosting the final between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao.
Expect a final decision from the Spanish Football Federation next week.
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