The Premier League has announced that Villa Park will be the venue for the potential third-place play-off between Chelsea and Arsenal on Sunday 26 May, if the two London clubs finish level on points, goal difference and goals scored after this weekend's matches.
Given the short turnaround time, the Premier League has to plan for the possibility that there will be a play-off in the event that Chelsea draw against Everton at Stamford Bridge and Arsenal win by a single-goal margin at St James' Park having scored two more than their London rivals. For example, a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge and a 2-1 victory for Arsenal would result in a dead heat.
Should a play-off be necessary under its rules, the Premier League has made arrangements for the single match to take place with an early afternoon kick-off, the time to be confirmed should results require the match to go ahead.
Chelsea are due to be playing Manchester City in New York on 25 May but it is understood the club have assured the Premier League they would prioritise any play-off and come to an arrangement with the organisers of the American fixture, whether that meant sending a second team or agreeing compensation.
In an attempt to head off criticism from fans, the Premier League has moved to reassure them that tickets would be priced at £20 and £30, with half-price concessions. The two clubs are also believed to be exploring the possibility of putting on subsidised coaches for fans if the match takes place.
Wembley was unable to host the play-off, which would decide which of the clubs went automatically into the Champions League and which had to qualify, due to the Champions League final the day before.
"Discussions with London-based stadia did take place as part of that process but limited availability and calendar restrictions, combined with wanting to use a large-capacity ground that has experience in organising and delivering neutral matches, meant Villa Park was the most suitable choice," said the Premier League.
Such is the tight timescale involved that tickets are being printed and contingency plans are being made by police. Further details will be released on Monday by both clubs if required.
The relevant Premier League rule states: "If at the end of the season either the league champions or the clubs to be relegated or the question of qualification for other competitions cannot be determined because two or more clubs are equal on points, goal difference and goals scored, the clubs concerned shall play off one or more deciding league matches on neutral grounds, the format, timing and venue of which shall be determined by the board."