Friday 18 October 2019

Mick McCarthy worried about pitch as Gibraltar qualifier gets the go-ahead


Ireland manager Mick McCarthy. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland manager Mick McCarthy. Photo: Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Gibraltar have been given the go-ahead to host their Euro 2020 qualifier with Ireland on March 23 and that is a concern for Mick McCarthy.

The Ireland manager is worried about the artificial surface at the Victoria Stadium, the 2,300-capacity venue that was eventually approved by European football's governing body UEFA.

There were FAI staff who believed the game was likely to be moved to Faro in Portugal as the small ground did not meet requirements.

However, the Gibraltar FA have committed to improvements with regard to floodlighting, and media and broadcasting facilities and that was enough to secure the green light.

Just 800 Ireland fans will be able to attend the first match of McCarthy's second stint in charge.

The FAI were not in a position to influence the final decision as it was a matter between UEFA and Gibraltar.

Ireland will be clear favourites to kick off the campaign on a winning note.

McCarthy's issues with the pitch are not just about the impact on the match itself.

He is also conscious that the surface can be quite demanding on players who will then have to play at home to Georgia three days later in Dublin.

The Victoria Stadium has played host to some surprising results. Brendan Rodgers' Celtic tenure kicked off in disastrous fashion when they lost the first leg of their Champions League tie with Lincoln Red Imps in 2016.

Gibraltar registered wins against Latvia and Liechtenstein on home turf last year, although their UEFA Nations League campaign did end with a whimper as a visiting Armenian team won 6-2.

The FAI have announced a change in the area of away ticket allocation for the forthcoming campaign.

They have altered the weighting of the percentages to ensure that independent supporters who travel regularly to matches will be guaranteed greater representation - their share has increased from 40pc to 65pc.

It followed discussions between the FAI and representatives of independent supporters and the various supporters' clubs.

Affiliated leagues, clubs, FAI delegates at board and council level, players and staff will get 20pc of the tickets, while 15pc will be provided to the FAI's official travel partners Abbey Travel.

Meanwhile, Ireland striker David McGoldrick has been rewarded for an excellent start to life at Sheffield United by agreeing a new contract that will keep him at Bramall Lane until 2021.

Injuries affected McGoldrick when he worked with McCarthy at Ipswich and he fell out with Martin O'Neill towards the end of Ireland's World Cup campaign.

The 31-year-old is on course for a recall to the squad in March after bagging 10 goals for the promotion-chasing Blades this term. His team are fourth in the table, just four points off leaders Leeds.

Irish Independent

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