Having initially been set to play the ‘home’ leg of their Europa League round of 32 clash with Benfica in Athens, Arsenal have now been asked to find a new venue due to Greece entering lockdown.
A mutual, yet forced, agreement was made to have both legs of the tie played at neutral venues due to travel restrictions put in place by countries across Europe. Arsenal would have been forced to quarantine for ten days after traveling to Portugal, while Benfica wouldn’t have been allowed entry into England at all.
Due to that, Rome’s Stadio Olimpico was chosen as Benfica’s ‘home’ leg of the tie, which will take place on Thursday February 18 at 8PM UK time.
Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium was set to be the home venue for Arsenal’s despite being 1,500 miles away, yet Arsenal have now removed this confirmation from their official website due to Greece entering a full lockdown in the Athens area until February 28 – three days after the fixture was scheduled.
4 venue choices as Arsenal are forced to cancel Greece plans for Europa League round of 32 tie with Benfica
Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis made the decision after authorities recorded 1,526 infections on Tuesday, doubling to amount from the previous day.
As per James Benge, it’s now up to Arsenal to find a new location for their round of 32 clash. Should they fail to find one for whatever reason they will be automatically handed a 3-0 loss although, given the circumstances, they could have the match moved to March 5 in extreme circumstances.
If it’s theirs to choose, where should they go?
First of all, preferably closer to home and not a four hour flight – although it’s not like they were going to Baku, I suppose.
So, where could Arsenal try and hustle themselves a venue? Maybe these, not in anyway serious, options:
Meadow Park – Borehamwood
Sound about right? It’s not Arsenal’s home and is used for Arsenal Women instead. That enough?
Given they only play there maximum once a year for their pre-season mismatch with Borehamwood, it wouldn’t actually be any different to playing at Olympiacos’ Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium where they seem to play every sodding year.
Maybe Mikel Arteta could even borrow Vivianne Miedema for the game?
Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux – Bordeaux
You want a level playing field, huh?
You want everything to be as fair as possible, right?
Well, how about finding the stadium as close to halfway between London and Lisbon as feasible. Which, it just so happens, turns out to be the beautifully picturesque city of Bordeaux.
Even better, Bordeaux is but a 45 minute drive from the town of Libourne. I mean, come on…