Football clubs seek pitch alternatives to play UEFA matches outside Gib

Football clubs seek pitch alternatives to play UEFA matches outside Gib

Gibraltar football clubs will not be able to play Champions League and Europa League qualifier matches at the Victoria Stadium.
The Chronicle understands the pitch failed its UEFA assessment for European competitive matches following an inspection by officials from the European governing body last month.
Officials within the GFA have been verbally informed of the outcome of the inspection, although the association has yet to receive written confirmation from UEFA or make a formal announcement.
But initial indications are that the outcome of the pitch assessment is that UEFA will not extend the certification allowing local clubs use Victoria Stadium for the coming European Champions League and Europa League preliminary round qualifier matches this summer.
As a result, GFA officials are already in talks with top Gibraltar clubs to make contingency plans to play matches in other locations should this be necessary.
“As of yet we have no official confirmation from UEFA,” said GFA spokesman Steven Gonzalez.
“We have met with the potentially affected clubs to discuss contingencies.”
The Chronicle understands three clubs have apparently already entered discussions with the GFA to find alternative venues for the summer in the event that they qualify for European games.
The three clubs – St Joseph’s, Europa FC and Lincoln Red Imps – are currently in the top three slots in the league and are expected to qualify.
An official source from one of the clubs who did not want to be named said clubs had already been asked to find an alternative venue in the event that they were to qualify for Europe.
It is understood the clubs have been asked to work together to find a venue in order to reduce the cost to clubs. Venues in both Spain and the UK are being considered.
Meanwhile concerns seemed to have been raised as to the use of Spanish stadiums due to the continued political climate which has in the past seen the Consejo de Deportes intervene in relation to Gibraltarian clubs competing in Spain.
At least three Spanish clubs in the region are already understood to have indicated that they would be willing to host matches, with at least two grounds in the UK also having been pinpointed, both in the lower divisions of the English league and with capacities of up to 8,000.
Alternatives such as playing both home and away matches away have also been raised as options, along with the option to opt out of playing altogether if the cost was beyond the reach of local clubs.
GFA sources have further indicated that the association is expected to make an announcement after Easter.
A meeting between clubs was due to take place yesterday with potential options being discussed.

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