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Venue switch to prove costly for BFA

On the road: Andrew Bascome, the Bermuda coach, will have to prepare his side for two away games

Bermuda will have to play both their Caribbean Cup second round matches away from home after Dominican Republic refused to move their fixture to June 7.

The Bermuda Football Association has been given until Thursday to come up with a suitable neutral venue to host the game, the team’s second in group four, which must be within the Concacaf region.

If the BFA cannot find a venue they may be forced to forfeit the game by the Caribbean Football Union, which would then render their first game against French Guiana on June 1 meaningless.

Originally scheduled for Saturday, June 4 at the National Stadium, the BFA had asked the CFU to switch the Dominican Republic game to the Tuesday night because the stadium is unavailable on that date.

The Atlantic Cup, a rugby fixture between English Aviva Premiership side Harlequins and a Bermuda XV, is already scheduled to be held on the Saturday, with the Bermuda national rugby team taking on Bahamas in the Rugby America North Championship beforehand.

North Field is also being used that day, with the Bermuda Cricket Board hosting its annual Hiscox Celebrity Cricket Festival.

Initially the CFU had agreed to Bermuda’s request to move the game, however, Dominican Republic were already scheduled to play French Guiana on June 7 at the Juan Felix Sanchez Olympic Stadium in the last game in group four.

At a meeting between the BFA, their French Guiana and Dominican Republic counterparts, and CFU officials in Mexico last week during the Concacaf Congress, the other two countries in Bermuda’s group objected to the decision.

As a result, the BFA now has four days to rearrange a game that is crucial to the island’s hopes of progressing any further in the competition.

“The decisions [in Mexico] were taken after both French Guiana and Dominican Republic would not agree with the CFU’s previous decision to change the schedule to allow the match between Bermuda and Dominican Republic to be played on June 7 in Bermuda, instead of June 4,” the BFA said in a statement yesterday.

“The CFU officials informed the meeting that the decision to amend the schedule was taken incorrectly as a result of the Bermuda National Sports Centre being unavailable on the originally scheduled date.”

As Bermuda has no other grounds that are fit for international football the BFA has been left with no option but to try and find a venue abroad.

Bermuda play French Guiana away on June 1 and could have opted to play “at home” in Dominican Republic three days later, although a BFA official dismissed that yesterday as, “not even a last resort.”

Staying in French Guiana and playing the game there has also been ruled out as Bermuda have already paid for their return flights from a country one official described as “crazy expensive.”

There is also the belief that French Guiana is not really a neutral venue, and given the defeat Bermuda inflicted on them in the first round they were not predisposed to be helpful this time around.

The most likely venues seem to be in the United States, or possibly the Bahamas, both of which are easily accessible. However, as June 4 is not an international weekend globally there are only a couple of grounds available with the second-tier United Soccer League in full swing.

“The US does make sense, but we’re still coordinating costs, transport, et cetera,” a BFA official said.

Whatever happens, the BFA stand to lose out financially with the associated costs unlikely to be balanced out by a crowd that will almost certainly be considerably smaller than it would have been at the National Stadium.