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exclusive Dundalk in talks to play Europa League group matches in Windsor Park


Dundalk want to play their Europa League matches in Windsor Park

Dundalk want to play their Europa League matches in Windsor Park

Dundalk want to play their Europa League matches in Windsor Park

Dundalk want to play all three of their Europa League group stage games at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast.

The Irish Independent has learned that the Lilywhites’ hierarchy is currently in talks with the Irish Football Association (IFA) after a dramatic breakdown in the relationship with the FAI.

Dundalk are also said to be completely exasperated by the IRFU’s stubbornness in refusing to allow them stage their opening Europa League fixture against Molde at Aviva Stadium on October 22.

Dundalk announced this week that the clash with the Norwegians would take place at Tallaght Stadium with the games against Arsenal and Rapid Vienna being held at the Aviva.

As a result, officials from Uefa had site visits yesterday (Friday, Oct 9) at the two prospective venues as part of their own preparations, but Dundalk are in the process of trying to figure out if it will be possible to move all three of the games north of the border instead.

While it was believed the opening game was switched to Tallaght because Ireland welcomed Italy to the Aviva for the start of their Six Nations campaign on October 24, sources have informed the Irish Independent that the Dundalk were actually refused permission to play at the Aviva because the IRFU demanded it was used solely for a kicking session for Andy Farrell’s side.

Dundalk chiefs are said to be perplexed by their rugby counterparts’ refusal to compromise and were disappointed by the FAI’s inability to help broker smoother negotiations.

Should Dundalk and the IFA be able to come to an agreement in principle, the League of Ireland club must then

Uefa’s own guidelines on match scheduling state the following. “In principle, a club must play all its matches in the competition at one and the same venue. As of the group stage the venue can be changed only based on a UEFA decision.

“A venue may be the ground of the home club or another ground in the same or another city within the territory of its association.

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“Exceptionally the UEFA administration may accept a venue in the territory of another UEFA member association if no other suitable venue is available on the home territory…”

As Tallaght Stadium was already used for Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk’s Europa League campaigns in 2011 and 2016 respectively, the likelihood of switching to Belfast is unlikely.

However, such is the depth of feeling at Dundalk it is something they are willing to attempt.

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