Arsenal face a nightmare November after Uefa opt against relocating Europa League tie

james olley
Long-haul | Arsenal fans face a 3,400-mile round trip: AFP/Getty Images/Pierre-Philippe Marcou

Arsenal supporters face a nightmare November trip to Ukraine after Uefa confirmed there are no plans to move the club’s Europa League clash with Vorskla Poltava to a more accessible location.

Vorskla have qualified for the group stage for only the second time in their history and the Butovsky Vorskla Stadium boasts a capacity of just under 25,000.

However, poor transport links makes Poltava a difficult destination to visit, leading to suggestions the Gunners may consider requesting a change of venue to either Kharkiv, Kiev or Dnipro.

But a Uefa spokesman told Standard Sport the game will not be moved, meaning fans must negotiate an extremely difficult journey to make the game scheduled for November 29, just three days before the north London derby against Tottenham at Emirates Stadium.

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Poltava has an airport but it is not possible to fly there on a commercial airline from London given it is one of the oldest airports in Ukraine with one single landing strip.

Fans would therefore have to fly to Kiev or Kharkiv and then take a train but Kharkiv flights are rarely direct and the trains from both destinations to Poltava run at infrequent times throughout the day. Accommodation is also of a low quality and relatively scarce.

It is believed the Gunners are assessing their travel options this week with manager Unai Emery keen to continue with Arsene Wenger’s model of training at London Colney on the day before the game before flying out to the venue to conduct pre-match media duties.

It remains to be seen whether the club offer any form of subsidy to fans considering making the 3,400-mile round trip once Uefa confirm Arsenal ticket allocation for the match.

Emery won the Europa League on three successive occasions with Sevilla between 2013-16 and may take the competition seriously but the proximity to such a big game against Spurs could in this instance force him to name a weakened team – a potentially further off-putting factor for fans.