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Gibraltar football clubs expected to be given temporary solution for European club competition matches

Gibraltar’s three club representatives in European club competitions this summer are expected to be given a temporary solution which will could see them play some of their matches at the Victoria Stadium.
Although the UEFA licence to play at the Victoria Stadium is understood to expire in June, arrangements are understood to have been made for the temporary extension of the licence to allow at least the first rounds of European club competition matches to be played at the Victoria Stadium.
Last week the Gibraltar FA started with the resurfacing of the main pitch which was hoped would allow for matches to be played. Initially, the association is understood to have entered discussions with the stakeholders of the Europa Sports facility for the possible use of the stadium at Europa Point. With discussions understood to have failed to reach agreement over the resurfacing of the main pitch to allow for matches to be played, the Gibraltar FA have opted to delay plans for the early part of summer to continue with any planned developmentw orks of the Victoria stadium to allow for the resurfacing of the main pitch and allow for the possible use of the Victoria Stadium for European club competition home matches to be played locally.
The resurfacing is understood will, however, not allow for international qualifier matches to be played at the stadium with Gibraltar’s national team still expected to travel to Faro for their home matches. One of which will be their first encounter with France which will take place in June.
The prospect of Gibraltar’s football clubs travelling to Faro to host their home matches led to an internal outcry from local clubs. The financial burden of opting to play in Portugal, which was among one of the options looked at, was seen as beyond the local clubs financial capabilities with clubs calling on the Gibraltar FA or UEFA to bear the brunt of the cost if forced to play away from Gibraltar.
The pitch will require to undergo UEFA inspection prior to a final go ahead as has been seen in the past when resurfacing has taken place.
With clubs already showing the impact on their financial status of incurring heavy costs during European club competitions either through unexpected travel costs or early exit from the competitions, the prospect of an additional burden estimated to be in the tens of thousands per match, is understood to have led to clubs to suggestbehind the scenes that they would consider the viability of playing in the competitions.
At least one club indicating that they incurred a close to £300,000 cost in travel expenses for just the one match last season. This after they were forced to travel to Kazakhstan, even though at one stage UEFA had stopped Gibraltar clubs from being drawn against Kazakhstan opponents due to what they described as the long distance of travel which teams would need to undertake. This policy dropped last season without any explanation given.
The latest decision by the Gibraltar FA to resurface the Victoria Stadium is seen as a temporary solution with at least one club still expressing their concerns that qualifying for the third round of matches and into the group stages of the Europa Conference League competition could still prove to be too high a financial burden for the returns they would make if they were to qualify and forced to play all their matches away from Gibraltar.
At the time of going to press the Gibraltar FA was yet to respond to questions put to them over the resurfacing which had been taking place throughout the weekend, with the old turf removed by Sunday. An official announcement was expected.

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