by Bulldog Drummond
So the latest is that Uefa have told Vorskla to use their backup stadium, but Vorskla say they might not be able to get things ready as this short notice. So what happens?
Untold, always handy with a rule book brings you the bits others don’t have.
There was less than 18 hours between Uefa confirming that that Europa game would go ahead as planned at the original stadium, and saying that no it wouldn’t, it was being moved to the officially nominated backup stadium. Away from Vorskla Poltava to Kiev, 48 hours before the game is due to start. The explanation given was “security concerns” as if there were not security concerns before. (Just to be clear there is no martial law in either area).
There was of course no apology for making the change so late. No offer of compensation to the 500 Arsenal supporters booked to go to the wrong place. No apology to 25,000 home supporters either.
So we were then told, “The match will now take place at the Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev on Thursday 29 November at 18.55 CET. Uefa will continue to monitor and assess the security situation in Ukraine in the coming days before making any decision on potentially relocating other matches.”
From Arsenal’s point of view this would be a benefit. The home team are no longer at home, and many of the fans of the team supposedly at home may not make the journey. For Arsenal they were going to fly to Kharkiv and then make a two-hour coach journey to Poltava. Now they just fly straight to Kiev. All they need is a hotel – and I am told there are lots of empty rooms, given the political tension.
The Vorskla vice president Oleh Lysak is reported to have said that the officials in charge of the Olympic Stadium that they have not actually agreed to hold the game there, and that they have not in any way confirmed that they can get everything organised in time. In particular there seems to be a problem with ticket arrangements, and of course there is always the issue of getting enough staff to man the facility and provide security.
So it looks at the moment a bit like one of these typical Uefa bits of imperiousness. “See to it,” says the almighty overlord and then assumes it will be seen to – but in effect it generally isn’t. Someone’s head is then chopped off and life goes on as normal. It’s Uefa. It happens.
However there are arrangements in the rules for such matters – although we rarely hear about them.
But first, why this stadium?
Actually it is a good choice as the old Soviet facility has been completely upgraded and reworked and was opened seven years ago. It has since been used for two finals – the Euro of 2012 and the Champions League of 2018. Rather like Wembley it is the home of the national team, rather than of a league team. It has 70,000 seats, and one presumes it will be only 25% full for the game on Thursday.
It should make our job that bit easier if the job does go ahead and it is a decent stadium. But like Wembley it doesn’t have a permanent staff on call ready to handle matters. The police in the city have not been put on call ready to handle the match. The TV crews have only just been told to “see to it” and the electricians are being told to sort the power out.
As always it is the imperious idiots telling others to do it, without the slightest idea of whether it can be done. But it is in the rules. Here’s how, why and where.
“Rule 25.04. In exceptional circumstances and for cases of extreme urgency which may have a significant impact on the running of the competition and to ensure the match is completed, if necessary without spectators, the home club must guarantee a back-up stadium, for approval by the UEFA administration. For emergency backup stadiums, exceptions can be made to all existing stadium requirements.”
This is what the club did, and this is the stadium that Uefa have chosen. Later in the rule book it says,
“25.07. If the match is rescheduled through no fault of either club, each party bears its own expenses related to the original fixture and the rescheduled match or remaining match time.
“25.08 In all cases, decisions taken by the UEFA administration on the basis of this article are final.”
But supposing the non-playing is deemed to be someone’s fault… (although in this case it is hard to see who’s fault it is within football other than Uefa, given that both clubs were happy to go ahead).
Then the rules have something to say on that too…
“26.01. If a club refuses to play or is responsible for a match not taking place or not being played in full, the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body declares the match forfeited and disqualifies the club concerned in combination with the following fines:…”
In this case the fine is €125,000
Moving on a little more…
“26.03. If a club is disqualified or for any reason withdraws from the competition before completion of its matches in the group stage, the results of all of its matches are declared null and void, and its points forfeited.”
We beat Vorskla 4-2, Sporting beat them 2-1. Sporting are due to play them in the last game of the group stages, so in effect removing them from the charts doesn’t change too much. The table is still the table, Sporting get the last matchday off, and our guys have had a lot of plane travel for nothing.
Now you know.