In an interview for GBC’s ‘Newswatch’ last Wednesday, Allen Bula condemned the state of the Victoria Stadium pitch, and suggested that any serious attempt to apply for FIFA membership would require the relaying of a new pitch.
In the interview, Bula said that after an inspection of the pitch by Faroe Islands manager Brian Kerr, the match scheduled between Gibraltar and the Faroe Islands was not certain, as he wasn’t happy with the state of the pitch, although the match will still go ahead.
He also went on to say that if Gibraltar wanted to progress from simply playing local Spanish teams once every so often, and attempted to get into proper competition such as the European Championships qualifiers, through membership of UEFA, that the stadium, in particular the pitch, would need a serious facelift.
The Gibraltar Sports Authority were quick to condemn Mr. Bula’s views, saying that the synthetic turf laid was the first of its kind in Europe, and that it was approved by technical advisors of UEFA and FIFA, and suggested that Mr Bula should look through all the facts before making ‘erroneous’ comments.
My View: Personally, I agree with Bula on this situation. Having first hand experience of playing on the Victoria Stadium pitch, I feel that whilst it was a good idea at the time, and certainly an improvement on the previous old astro turf laid down, the fact is that Gibraltar is in an area capable of growing grass, and therefore the stadium should take advantage of this.
The Stadium itself isn’t in great shape and would need a good facelift if any new UEFA proposition was to be put forward by the GFA. First I feel that actual permanent seating should be installed, instead of the current slabs of concrete used. Although it allows for sitting down or standing up during a game, it isn’t acceptable for a national stadium, and the lick of paint given to it last year has done little to improve it.
Also, the general facilities of the stadium could do with a slight increase, notably the dressing rooms which are very basic. There is also no proper place for cameras to film any action, something which will be noticeable when the Faroese are over for the friendly. Finally, there should be some more protection from the elements for fans. Being situated next to a runway notorious for strong cross winds, fans are continuously exposed to such conditions, and the roofing does not cover the entirety of the main stand, whilst the opposite stand has no protection whatsoever.
Whilst Gibraltar are making vast improvements – despite a 6-3 loss to San Roque on Thursday – on the pitch, off the pitch, they are still lacking behind seriously.