Hammers request Europa League fixture switch

15 Jul

West Ham have asked UEFA if they play the second leg of their Europa League qualifier at home so the Olympic Stadium is ready.

West Ham: Hammers request Europa League fixture switchWest Ham: Hammers request Europa League fixture switch

The Hammers’ first fixture at their new Stratford home will be a third qualifying round clash against either Shakhtyor Soligorsk of Belarus or Slovenian side Domzale.

They were pulled out of the hat first at the draw in Nyon, Switzerland, on Friday afternoon, and would ordinarily play the home leg first on July 28.

However, with the Anniversary Games being held at the Olympic Stadium the previous weekend, the club fear they would not have time to switch it back to ‘football mode’.

In a statement on the club website, the Hammers said both Shakhtyor and Domzale had agreed to the switch to August 4 in principle, and a final decision should be ratified by UEFA in due course.

The teams are currently tied at 1-1 after the first leg, with the second leg to be played in Slovenia next week.

West Ham were forced into playing a qualifier after being pipped for sixth place in the Premier League by Southampton on the final day of last season.

Slaven Bilic’s side are taking on Italian champions Juventus in a friendly which was supposed to mark the opening of the stadium on Sunday, August 7, but are now set to host less glamorous opposition three days earlier.

The capacity for the qualifier and the Juve game will be 54,000, but the stadium will be at its full 60,000 capacity for the first Premier League fixture against Bournemouth on Sunday, August 21.

Vice-chairman Karren Brady told the club website: “We’re delighted to be welcoming our supporters to the opening of our magnificent new home against Italian champions Juventus.

“It’s fantastic to be kicking off this exciting new era for the club with European football, in preparation for the all-important first Premier League fixture against Bournemouth.”


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