Derry City call for Europa League walkover as club awaits clarification from UEFA
The Brandywell club is set to fly to Vilnius on Monday on a chartered plane but the first round qualifier has been thrown into doubt due to the Lithuanian government’s sudden change in travel restrictions.
UEFA was last night locked in talks with FK Riteriai and the Lithuanian Football Federation in an attempt to resolve the ‘deadlock’.
Had the 14 days Covid-19 quarantine restrictions for those travelling from the UK or Ireland been in place at the time of the draw, Uefa would have moved the tie to a neutral venue.
However, UEFA rules make it clear that the team from the country that changes travel guidelines at a later date will be eliminated from the competition if the tie cannot be completed.
“The club whose national/local authorities have imposed restrictions preventing the match from taking place as scheduled will be held responsible and the match will be declared by the Uefa Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body to be forfeited by such club, which will be considered to have lost it 3-0,” according to UEFA guidelines.
While City Chairman, Mr Philip O’Doherty expects clarification from European football’s governing body today, he claims the uncertainty surrounding the fixture is far from ideal just four days before kick-off.
“The likelihood, I think, is that something will happen to break the deadlock we have now but it’s certainly not of our doing,” stated Mr O’Doherty.
“The plane is paid for; we’ve done all the Covid testing. We’ve done everything we’re supposed to do but at the minute the Lithuanian government is basically saying you can’t come here unless you quarantine for 14 days which is impossible,” added the chairman.
“That would mean the team couldn’t go on the field; they would have to stay in the hotel. That’s the quarantine procedure so until we hear differently we have to assume it’s off.”
If that remains the case club director, Mr Barrett insists Derry should be awarded a 3-0 win and progression to the second round qualifiers unless their opponents can somehow provide special dispensation for the Derry team to travel to the Baltic state.
“The fact the new restrictions mean we have to quarantine for 14 days means Riteriai are unable to fulfil the fixture so as far as we’re concerned the game is off and we go into the next round.
“They’ve (Riteriai) just come back to us and said until UEFA confirm to us it’s off, then it’s still on. They’re looking for a special dispensation but they still haven’t confirmed that yet so, basically, the answer is we still don’t know.”
Derry boss, Declan Devine says his focus is soley on tomorrow night's league clash with Cork City at Brandywell.
"The club, behind the scenes here have worked extremely hard with the FAI and UEFA to make sure the game goes ahead but these restrictions are out of our hands and we have to go by what the rulebook says.
"As far as I'm concerned, we're playing Cork City on Friday night - that's the most important thing in my week. After the Cork City game, we've already done a lot of homework on the European tie so we'll see to that on Saturday."
When contacted tonight a UEFA spokeperson was unable to confirm when a decision would be made but stated talks with FK Riteriai and the national association of Lithuania were ongoing.