Vorskla-Arsenal in doubt over stadium move

UEFA announced on Tuesday Vorskla vs Arsenal would be played in Kiev, but the Ukraine club say the match may not go ahead at all.

Vorskla has aired concerns over the readiness of Olimpiyskiy Stadium to host the match against Arsenal.   -  Getty Images

Vorskla has claimed that its Europa League tie with Arsenal may not be played on Thursday due to concerns over UEFA's decision to switch the game to Kiev.

UEFA announced on Tuesday the match was being moved to Kiev's Olimpiyskiy Stadium, which hosted the 2018 Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool, because of security issues.

European football's governing body said its Emergency Panel made the decision "following the introduction of martial law into certain regions in Ukraine".

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But on Wednesday, Vorskla aired concerns over the moving of the game, suggesting the Olimpiyskiy Stadium was not ready to host the match against the Premier League side.

Asked by local outlet Seven Sport if the game may not go ahead, president Roman Chernyak said: "It's a complete possibility. They made that decision without agreeing with anyone. At present there is uncertainty.

"The decision was made yesterday evening. It's hard for me to comment. Our goal is that our fans watch this game at our stadium. We have spent a lot of money on repairing our arena.

"We're all shocked. Nobody has asked us anything, no one has informed us. Moreover, the Olimpiyskiy Stadium is not ready for the organisational point of view.

"The fans got tickets to watch in Poltava - airplanes, trains and buses - as well as meeting at the stadium. What happens to these tickets? Or how to sell tickets to Olimpiyskiy for 70,000 people in a day?

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"This is a decision taken without informing. The main question now is if the game will take place? Today, a pre-match training and press conference should be held. But where and how?"

Vorskla must beat Arsenal and hope Sporting CP do not beat Qarabag to stay in contention to qualify, with Chernyak determined to play Thursday's match at Vorskla's home stadium.

"At present, we are dealing with organisational issues," he added. "They gave us a stadium that is not able to host a home match of the Ukrainian team. That's why it is impossible for us to know anything at the capital's stadium.

"Because we have not applied to play at this arena from the very beginning. Who will be responsible for the security there? There are many open issues. At present, we are dealing with these. Why not play in Poltava?"

Following the Vorskla chairman's interview, UEFA released a statement confirming work is ongoing on ensuring the match will be played in Kiev.

"On November 26 2018, a state of martial law was declared by the national government in respect of specific areas of Ukraine," UEFA's statement said.

"As a result of this exceptional measure, UEFA had to review – as a matter of urgency – the potential impact on the staging of the UEFA Europa League match between Vorskla and Arsenal on November 29.

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"The urgent decision of UEFA to relocate the match to Kiev was based on the sudden introduction of martial law and the uncertainty of the security situation in some parts of Ukraine and particularly given the extremely short timescale available to evaluate all existing risks.

"UEFA is now working closely with the Football Federation of Ukraine [FFU] to ensure that the match goes ahead in the Olympiskiy Stadium in Kiev tomorrow. This decision concerns the match Vorskla and Arsenal.

"UEFA is also continuing its close collaboration with the FFU to examine all implications for holding matches in some parts of Ukraine in the immediate future.

"UEFA will be sending senior security experts to Ukraine to further assess the situation and the potential impact on security for upcoming UEFA matches.

"UEFA regrets the inconvenience the relocation of this match has caused to supporters and Vorskla."

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