The new format of the UEFA Cup has had a “positive impact” on the tournament, according to UEFA Chief Executive Lars-Christer Olsson, who was in Lisbon today to unveil plans for this season’s final.

Speaking at the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) headquarters in the city, Mr Olsson looked ahead to the match on 18 May at Jose Alvalade stadium, saying the choice of venue would bolster the final’s prestige.

“Hosting the 2005 final in such a wonderful stadium can only help to further improve its standing,” said Olsson.

This season has seen the introduction of a group stage in the tournament and, as he presented a preview of the official branding for the 2005 final, Olsson added: “The UEFA Cup has undergone a major overhaul this season with a new format and a new brand identity.

“All the early feedback tells us that this has had a positive impact on the attendances at matches and the overall image of the competition.”

The Jose Alvalade stadium hosted five matches at Euro 2004 including the semi-final between the hosts Portugal and the Netherlands.

Details of ticket sales for the final were also disclosed today. Over 14,400 tickets from the total of 44,000 available for the final have been reserved for the general public. A first batch of 7,200 will go on sale from 15 December until 31 January via the FPF to Portuguese citizens with proof of home residence in Portugal. The remaining 7,200 ‘neutral’ tickets will be put on sale to football fans in the rest of the world in April, via the website.

A further 24,000 tickets, over 50 per cent of the stadium capacity for this match, will go to the supporters of the two finalists once they are known, after the semi-finals conclude on 5 May. The remaining 5,600 tickets will go to members of the UEFA football family, split between local organising committee, official guests, clubs, leagues, federations and commercial partners.