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Uefa reject Dundalk's request to stage Europa League games at Windsor Park

Chairman Bill Hulsizer wanted to take the games north after they were forced to move next week’s tie with Molde because of an Irish rugby kicking session.

A view of Windsor Park.
A view of Windsor Park.
Image: Presseye/Brian Little/INPHO

UEFA HAVE REFUSED Dundalk’s request to stage their Europa League group stage home games at Windsor Park in Belfast. 

With Oriel Park unusable as it falls well below Uefa requirements, Dundalk had initially agreed to stage their Europa League group games against Molde, Rapid Vienna and Arsenal at the Aviva Stadium, the venue of the play-off win against KI of the Faroe Islands. 

Next Thursday’s tie with Molde, however, has been moved to Tallaght Stadium as it clashes with the Irish rugby team’s scheduled kicking session at the Aviva Stadium. 

Dundalk chairman Bill Hulsizer then confirmed to RTE the club would seek to stage all three games at Windsor Park in Belfast, to avoid a €50,000 bill that would come with splitting games across two Dublin venues.

Uefa yesterday rejected the request, and the games will go ahead at Tallaght and the Aviva as planned.

Uefa’s rules state a club should play their games “within the territory of its association”, and ruled the circumstances weren’t sufficiently extenuating to allow Dundalk play in Belfast. 

Hulsizer has been a critic of the FAI and the IRFU over their running of the Aviva Stadium, and last month revealed he and his firm Peak6 had offered to manage the stadium on behalf of the two organisations. The FAI and IRFU are equal partners in the holding company that runs the stadium. 

Hulsizer was critical of how the stadium is run, and then said it was “ironic” the IRFU turned to the government for financial support in the Covid-19 crisis. 

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“Peak6 offered to take control of the management of the stadium and help the FAI, IRFU and the Irish taxpayers by making the Aviva profitable, useful, and a beacon to attract travel to the Republic.

“Unfortunately they rejected the proposal preferring to limit its use and force the Irish taxpayers to cover losses.”

Over the Europa League issue, Hulsizer said the FAI had not been uncooperative over the scheduling of the Europa League games, but made a mistake in assuming “they had a partner in the IRFU, not an enemy.” Hulsizer also claimed there is “bad blood” between Dundalk and the IRFU.

An Irish rugby spokesperson told the Irish Independent Hulsizer’s comments were “disappointing” and “misleading”, stressing it was logistically impossible to prepare the ground for a rugby session and a football match on the same day. 

Dundalk played all of their 2016 Europa League group games at Tallaght Stadium. 

Dundalk Europa League group fixtures 

October 22nd: Molde FK (Tallaght Stadium) 5.55pm
October 29th: Arsenal (A) 8pm
November 5th: Rapid Wien (A) 5.55pm
November 26th: Rapid Wien (Aviva Stadium) 8pm
December 3rd: Molde FK (A) 8pm
December 10th: Arsenal (Aviva Stadium) 8pm

 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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