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Chronicle interview prompts political exchange over stadium

The GSD has highlighted comments made by the Gibraltar Government in an interview with this publication suggesting that the Victoria Stadium will be upgraded to Category 3 status.

The GSD said that this would mean Gibraltar international football could ‘finally’ come home.

But the Gibraltar Government said the interview had been misinterpreted and that there were no plans to upgrade Victoria Stadium to a Category 3 facility.

It said the Gibraltar FA was poised to submit plans for a new stadium at Lathbury barracks.

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UEFA rules stipulate that European Qualifiers matches must be played in a Category 4 stadium or a Category 3 stadium if no Category 4 stadium is available.

Edwin Reyes, Shadow Minister for Sports, referred to an interview with Steven Linares, Minister for Sport, where he said: “The Victoria Stadium would not become a UEFA Cat 3 for football only – it will be a Municipal Stadium accommodating all sports.”

Mr Reyes said that originally the Minister told Parliament that it was not possible to upgrade the Victoria Stadium to a UEFA Cat 3 without disrupting other sports.

He interpreted the comments to this newspaper as meaning the stadium would now be upgraded to category 3.

“The GSD wishes to congratulate the Minister for deciding to upgrade the Victoria Stadium to a UEFA Cat 3 stadium, which is what the GSD has been advocating for over two years now,” he said.

“We can finally bring football home. This will come as a welcome development for the many fans who have to travel to Faro for home games.”

However last night, the Gibraltar Government issued a clarification and insisted the minister’s words had been misinterpreted.

“Victoria Stadium will not be upgraded to a Category 3 stadium,” it said.

“As emphasised by the Minister for Sports, the Hon Steven Linares, in an interview printed in the Gibraltar Chronicle on 18th January, it will remain a Municipal Stadium and the Government intends to expand and improve the facilities at the Bayside Sports Complex to accommodate all sports.”

“The Government understands that the Gibraltar Football Association are commissioning their plans for a Gibraltar National Football Stadium at Lathbury Barracks through local architects and these are expected to be placed before the DPC shortly.”