Gibraltar ‘shop window’ stadium plans


New stadium plans unveiled in Gibraltar Image: Gibraltar Football Association

Plans for a major stadium and residential development funded as an investment by the Gibraltar Savings Bank (GSB) were announced in a match held recently between the Gibraltar national football team and the Andorra national football team.

Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory while Andorra is a sovereign landlocked microstate on the Iberian Peninsula in Europe.

‘GIBRALTAR CHRONICLE’ stated that the plans were unveiled in a video that included a presentation by Sir Joe Bossano, the Gibraltar Minister for Inward Investment and Chairman of the GSB.

Sir Joe gave no details on the size of the investment or how it would be structured during the five-minute video, which showed dramatic images of a striking development covering the area of the existing Victoria Stadium and encompassing the site currently occupied by the Cepsa Petrol Station on the Winston Churchill Avenue.

The 5,000-capacity Victoria Stadium is a multipurpose stadium in Gibraltar. It is currently used mostly for football matches, but also hosts the annual Gibraltar Music Festival. It is located close to the Gibraltar Airport just off the Winston Churchill Avenue. It was named after the wife of Gibraltarian philanthropist John Mackintosh.

‘GIBRALTAR CHRONICLE’ further stated that the 8,000-seat stadium project will include a 92-unit residential project, retail and office units and a business center and was described by Sir Joe as future “shop window of new Gibraltar post-Brexit”.

New stadium plans unveiled in GibraltarImage: Gibraltar Football Association

The project envisages the stadium being used not just for football but also for major leisure events.

Sir Joe, who wore a GFA strip over his shirt during the announcement, said the involvement of the GSB was in line with its statute requiring it to prioritize projects that were important for the community and the Rock’s prosperity.

Stated Sir Joe, “It’s a very important moment in the history of football in Gibraltar, of the Gibraltar Football Association (GFA) and of our long struggle and success in being accepted and recognized in the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), taking our rightful place alongside the European nations as we have done in many other fields. It’s a struggle we have supported and has had the support of the whole of Gibraltar. Now we’re going take the next most important step for football, something that the GFA and the football community and the players and the fans have wanted for a long time, been promised for a long time and finally I can tell you that it will be a reality.”

Added Sir Joe, “We’ve been able to find a way that the funding that is required for the new stadium, which is going to be exceptionally beautiful, will be provided as an investment, as a sponsored project in the National Economic Plan of Gibraltar, funded by the Gibraltar Savings Bank, which has in its statute the requirement that it should give priority to things that are important for the community and the prosperity of Gibraltar. This is not just about football and fans, although it is predominantly and obviously first for them, but because it will create an asset for Gibraltar which will help us to deliver what we have to deliver, and become the shop window of new Gibraltar post-Brexit. Good for football, good for our people, good for our nation.”

The project for the Gibraltar National Stadium will be subject to the usual planning process and the detailed designs by ALI Design Limited have yet to be published by the Development and Planning Commission.

New stadium plans unveiled in GibraltarImage: Gibraltar Football Association

The match against Andorra was the last one in the Victoria Stadium for Gibraltar’s men’s national team and was played, the GFA said, “with more than just a tinge of nostalgia”.

The GFA said in a statement, “The stadium has seen Gibraltar’s finest footballers in action in many matches over the years, and has seen both club and national teams from the highest echelons of the sport lock horns. Today’s sadness, however, is tempered by the news of the Gibraltar FA’s agreement with the Community Supplies and Services Limited for the construction and development of a new, UEFA-approved, Category 4 football stadium complex. This exciting new project will provide the Gibraltar FA with the highest level of sporting infrastructure, and will cater for new retail, residential and commercial areas for the benefit of economic activity and investment for Gibraltar as a whole.”

The statement added, “At halftime of today’s international friendly, the Gibraltar FA unveiled a video presentation that gave you, the fans, your first glimpse of Gibraltar football’s new home. Our mighty Rock, standing proud behind the old Victoria Stadium, has provided one of the most spectacular backdrops in world football. We cannot wait to showcase our new home to you, and to the footballing world.”

The plans announced recently mark the latest step in a tortuous road to build a new stadium for the GFA, which joined the UEFA in May 2013 after years of legal wrangling and Spanish opposition.

The GFA’s initial plans to build a huge stadium in Europa Point (Southernmost point of Gibraltar) were shelved amid wide public backlash over the scale of the scheme. In a deal announced in 2017, the GFA bought Victoria Stadium from the Gibraltar Government for £16.5m, with that money funding sporting facilities around the Rock in the run-up to the 2019 Island Games.

New stadium plans unveiled in GibraltarImage: Gibraltar Football Association

At the time, the GFA said it would invest a further £15m in revamping the facility to accommodate up to 8,000 spectators and meet UEFA Category 4 standards.

The site of the Victoria Stadium was first opened in 1926 as a British military sports ground and was rebuilt in 1970 by the Royal Engineers as a sports ground for use by both the military forces and the civilian population of Gibraltar.

The Gibraltar Football Association or also Gibraltar FA (GFA) is the governing body for Gibraltarian football and futsal. It was formed as the Gibraltar Civilian Football Association in 1895, changing to its current name in later years. It is one of the oldest football associations in the world.

Nyon (Switzerland)-based the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is one of six continental bodies of governance in association football. It governs football, futsal and beach football in Europe and the Eurasian transcontinental countries of Russia, Turkey, Cyprus, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and Kazakhstan, as well as one Asian country Israel. UEFA consists of 55 national association members. Because of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, FIFA and UEFA suspended all Russian national teams and clubs from any FIFA and UEFA competitions.

Category 4 stadiums must not have a capacity less than 60,000 for the UEFA Champions League and UEFA EURO Finals, 30,000 for the UEFA Europa League and Nations League Finals and 8,000 for the UEFA Europa Conference League Final.

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