Gunners’ Europa League showdown rescheduled – again!
Arsenal's last-32 home leg against BATE Borisov moved back to Thursday, February 21, after angry fans hit out at plans to hold tie a day early
17 December, 2018 — By Steve Barnett
ARSENAL’S Europa League second-leg tie against BATE Borisov has been rearranged, and will now take place at 5.55pm on Thursday, February 21.
Fans reacted angrily after the draw today (Monday) when it was originally announced that the knockout match at the Emirates Stadium would be played a 5pm on Wednesday, February 20, so that it wouldn’t clash with Chelsea’s game against Swedish side Malmo at Stamford Bridge.
The Gunners and Chelsea both topped their respective groups, meaning that they get to play the second-leg of the last-32 of the competition at home. But UEFA regulations state that two games cannot be played in the same city on the same night. Having won the FA Cup last season, the Blues were given priority to host their match on the Thursday.
To complicate matters even more, Europa League games cannot be played at the same time as Champions League fixtures, so Arsenal’s were told they would have to kick off against their Belarusian opposition at the earlier time of 5pm. That left supporters enraged.
A statement from Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) on Twitter read: “The proposed kick-off time of 5pm for the Europa League game at the Emirates verses BATE is ridiculous.
“The AST is calling on Arsenal to make the strongest representations to UEFA to have this changed. Don’t they understand football without fans is nothing?
“If the game does go ahead at this time then Arsenal should offer every fan a full refund for a game that is included on the season ticket. It is not fair to force fans to pay for a game that is scheduled at a time that it is impossible for so many to make.”
Thankfully the AST got their wish, and, following talks between Arsenal and UEFA, common sense won out, meaning the tie will now be played on a traditional Thursday.