Next year's 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 11 August.
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 12 August, the London organising committee have reached an agreement with the Football Association that the game will not be played in the capital, leaving them to find another venue for the annual game 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 match between Internazionale 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. Instead, the game will be played at a suitable location within these shores. "The Community Shield take place at the traditional time at a prestigious stadium in England," said an FA spokesman.
Cardiff's Millennium Stadium would be the obvious choice, as it held the Community Shield for six seasons from 2001.
However, the men's third-place play-off will be played at the stadium on Friday 10 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 Olympics match is the men's semi-final on Tuesday 7 August.
Neutrality may be an issue considering Manchester United have featured in 14 of the last 18 such occasions but the ground's capacity is greater than alternatives such as St James' Park, the Stadium of Light, Eastlands, Anfield and Villa Park.