Gibraltar will host international matches on home soil after an agreement was reached for an 8,000-seater stadium on Tuesday.
A lack of suitable facilities meant Gibraltar played their home international fixtures in Faro, Portugal, since their admission into UEFA in 2014, but now the British territory’s football association (the GFA) and government have agreed plans to upgrade the Victoria Stadium using UEFA and FIFA infrastructure funding.
The GFA will invest around £32m into the Victoria Stadium, paying the Gibraltar Government around £16.5m for the ground and investing a similar amount in upgrading the facility to meet UEFA standards.
“Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar is delighted to announce that agreement has now finally been reached with the Gibraltar Football Association on the construction of a UEFA Category 4 National Football Stadium in Gibraltar,” a government statement read.
“The GFA also informs the Government that the Gibraltar National Football Squad will be able to play all its UEFA and FIFA internationals in Gibraltar as from 2018.”
The stadium, which currently has a 2,500-seat capacity, had initially been ruled out by UEFA for failing to meet their requirements for international matches, however the GFA’s plans to build a stadium in another location encountered public resistance.
UEFA consequently accepted that Victoria Stadium is the only feasible site, on condition it was sold to the GFA.
“Football will finally come home,” said Dennis Beiso, GFA general secretary.
“There will be no repeats of the current situation where our clubs and our national teams are not allowed to play at their home stadium because the facilities do not meet standards.”