By G9ija

Arsenal fans have criticised UEFA for moving the club’s Europa League tie with Vorskla Poltava almost 200 miles from the original venue.

The Group E game was scheduled to take place in Poltava, but UEFA’s emergency panel announced on Tuesday the fixture would be moved to the Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev following the introduction of martial law in some parts of Ukraine.

Around 500 Arsenal fans are expected to make the trip and some have already been affected by the late change as the new venue is about 190 miles away from the original.

Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko has called for martial law to be imposed in the country due to escalating tensions with Russia amid a row over Ukrainian ships in Crimea.

John Williamson, an Arsenal Independent Supporters’ Association (AISA) committee member, said the announcement has been affecting the supporters’ plans “dramatically”.

“It’s a major inconvenience not only for the fans, but for the team as well,” he said. “Having spent a night in Poltava, I see no issues whatsoever with the match being played here.

“I understand the political issues in surrounding areas but there are no problems in the town. I feel that UEFA hasn’t assessed the situation and has overreacted.”

“We arrived in Poltava on Tuesday with an original plan of spending four nights here, returning home on Saturday.

“Having been to Kiev three times previously, we have just decided that on matchday we will go by train to Kiev, return to Poltava on Friday and go to Kharkiv on Saturday for our flight back to London.”

A statement released by UEFA on Tuesday night said the panel will “continue to monitor and assess the security situation in Ukraine in the coming days before making any decision on potentially relocating other matches.”

Arsenal have secured qualification to the last 32 of the Europa League and will top the group with a win in Kiev, having beaten Vorskla 4-2 at the Emirates in September.

The Gunners also face a North London derby fixture this weekend, facing Tottenham Hotspur.

Advertisements