You can read 9 more articles this month
UEFA has altered the date and kick-off time of Arsenal’s Europa League last-32 fixture against Bate Borisov at Ashburton Grove — with the game now slated to begin at 5.55pm on Thursday February 21 2019.
The original announcement from the European governing body that the game would be played a day earlier and begin at 5pm was widely criticised by Arsenal fans and supporters’ groups.
Both Arsenal and London rivals Chelsea topped their respective groups and will therefore play their second legs at home — with Uefa rules stipulating the pair cannot play in the city on the same night.
The Gunners were the team whose fixture was initially brought forward with Uefa confirming that, as FA Cup winners, Chelsea are given priority.
In Uefa’s initial statement they said the Arsenal game would kick-off at 5pm on the Wednesday — but when the official fixture list was circulated it fell into line with the other second-leg ties which will kick-off early on the Thursday.
Lois Langton, chairwoman of the Arsenal Independent Supporters’ Association, believes the original decision showed a disregard for fans planning to attend the game against Bate — and that the alteration of kick-off time by 55 minutes will still cause some to miss out.
“The announcement that the home leg of Arsenal’s round of 32 tie will see a 5pm kick-off shows the scant regard Uefa holds for match-attending supporters and will undoubtedly impact on the attendance figures,” she said before Uefa’s decision to alter its plans.
Once the new time and date had been confirmed, Langton added: “That news makes the change a little more palatable but the reality is that many working supporters will still struggle to arrive in time for kick-off.
“The right and proper course of action is to restore the match to when it should be played — at 8pm on the Thursday evening.”
Although kick-off times were two hours apart, both Arsenal and Chelsea last played at home on the same day as recently as December 2.
Both clubs hosted their nearest neighbours in Premier League derbies as Chelsea beat Fulham 2-0 in a game that kicked off at midday, with Arsenal then winning 4-2 against Tottenham in a 2.05pm kick-off at Ashburton Grove.
Elsewhere in the draw, Chelsea were drawn against Swedish side Malmo, while Celtic face Spaniards Valencia, with the first leg in Glasgow.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.