Rocking in the Algarve

By Skip Bandele [email protected]

The newest member of the UEFA football community, Gibraltar, is to play its international matches in the Stadium of the Algarve.

The purpose built 30,000-seater Euro’2004 venue has been chosen by the Gibraltar FA (GFA) as its ‘home-from-home’ following negotiations with both its Portuguese counterpart and the Faro/Loulé municipal association, which is responsible for the running of the stadium.

Although an official contract had yet to be signed at the time of the Algarve Resident going to press, it is believed that the two Algarve councils are to receive around €25,000 per game from Gibraltar, helping greatly to offset the annual €1.5 million maintenance and upkeep costs associated with the stadium.

The following was offered as an explanation for the somewhat curious move by GFA chief executive officer Dennis Beiso.

“Our national stadium does not meet UEFA conditions so we immediately started looking for a suitable venue offering quality and proximity. We have an excellent relationship with the Portuguese FA and, basically, things just came together.”

The Gibraltar national team should make the first of many almost 800 kilometre round trips at the start of the Euro’2016 qualifying campaign, but have already set an even loftier target.

“Now we will take the same arguments which saw us finally gain UEFA admittance to FIFA”, said Beiso. “But first Euro’2016 – I would love it if our first match was against Portugal.”