CHAMPIONS LEAGUE BUILD-UP BEGINS IN LONDON
A ceremony in London earlier today [Friday] marked the start of the build-up to the UEFA Champions League and Women's Champions League finals, the latter of which will take place at Stamford Bridge on Thursday 23 May.
With the capital set to host both matches next month, the event, which took place at Banqueting House on Whitehall, set the scene with a video looking back over the history of the competition.
UEFA president Michel Platini was in attendance, along with FA chairman David Bernstein, minister of sport Hugh Robertson and the Mayor of London's commissioner of sport, Kate Hoey, who all addressed an audience made up of dignitaries, media and figures from within the world of football.
Hoey expressed her joy at the capital playing host to the UEFA Women's Champions League final.
'I am delighted to see the women's final return to our city, shining a light on some of the world's most talented female athletes,' she said.
'Women's football is on the up, both in this country and around the world. It was showcased spectacularly during the Olympics and the UEFA Women's Champions League final will continue to provide sporting inspiration to thousands of young women.'
A five-man Chelsea representation, made up of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Petr Cech, Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres, took to the stage to officially hand over the Champions League trophy, while chief executive Ron Gourlay also attended.
'Of course, we were all disappointed to go out of the Champions League at the group stage,' said Terry.
'But we're in a good position in the Europa League and we'll be doing everything we can in order to win the competition.'
Representatives from Lyon, current holders of the women's trophy, also took part in the hand over, although they may have it back in their grasp sooner rather than later as the holders go into the second leg of this season's semi-final with a 3-0 advantage against FCF Juvisy Essonne.
In the other semi-final, meanwhile, Arsenal trail German side Wolfsburg 2-0 going into the second leg.
The trophies made their way to the venue in a slightly unconventional manner, travelling across the capital via tube, bus and taxi under the watchful eyes of Graeme Le Saux and former England international Faye White, a journey which started at Stamford Bridge.
The build-up to the finals will see the Champions Festival hit London from 23-26 May, a free four-day football celebration featuring a series of family-friendly activities which will take place on the International Quarter, close to the Olympic Park.
Festival attendees will be given the opportunity to visit the UEFA Champions League museum and have their photo taken with the trophies.
Tickets for the UEFA Women's Champions League final are still available from the Stamford Bridge box office, online or via the call centre on 0871 984 1905.