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BFA finds solution to venue problem

Problem solved: Bermuda will face Dominican Republic at North Field next month

Bermuda will play their Caribbean Cup second-round match against Dominican Republic at home after all on June 4, they just don’t know how many people will be able to watch.

A week after Dominican Republic and French Guiana refused to agree to a date change because the National Stadium is unavailable, the Bermuda Football Association has revealed the game will now take place at North Field at 9pm.

The BFA had until yesterday to find a new venue after failing to move the game to June 7, and had been faced with the prospect of playing the second group game overseas, or forfeiting altogether. Bermuda play French Guiana away on June 1 in their first game.

As it is the Caribbean Football Union has agreed to allow the match to take place on the island, although the BFA does not know how many tickets it will be able to sell. There is no standing at international matches, which means the BFA must try and find temporary seating for the fixture.

By its own admission the BFA has “no idea” how many fans it will be able to accommodate and will spend the next couple of days scouring the island “for as many bleachers as we can locate on the island and get them to the stadium.

“That’s the bottom line,” a BFA official said.

North Field has been used for international football before with Bermuda playing Greenland, and the Falkland Islands, there when the island hosted the NatWest Island Games in 2013.

The National Stadium is unavailable because of two rugby matches being held there that day; a Rugby Americas North Championship match between Bermuda and Bahamas, and the Atlantic Cup match between Bermuda Barbarians and Harlequins, the Aviva Premiership side.

Similarly, North Field is being used during the day by the Bermuda Cricket Board, which is holding the Hiscox Celebrity Cricket Festival.

“In keeping with the tournament regulations and international match protocols, and following a meeting with the participating countries and the CFU officials, the BFA was facing the possibility of playing this qualifying match in a neutral venue,” the BFA said in a statement.

“Over the past several days of considering where to play the match, and after contemplating whether the North Field was a suitable alternative in order to ensure that our team could play in front of their own fans.

“With the co-operation and support from the National Sports Centre, the Association was able to meet with representatives of the CFU who provided approval for the North Field [with some minor upgrades] to be used on this occasion to host the international match.

“In making the decision to play at home, the Association is mindful of the fact that the standard and normal amenities of playing in the main stadium will not be available on the North Field, in particular, limited seating.”

Bermuda will be without the services of Nahki Wells for their Caribbean Cup second-round fixtures because of a knee injury.

Wells, who missed Huddersfield Town’s final game of the Sky Bet Championship season at home to Brentford, is to undergo treatment to solve the problem.

“I’m getting another scan tomorrow and have a meeting with a specialist regarding injection therapy,” Wells told The Royal Gazette.

“But with that there’s no activity for approximately two weeks, so that will be the nail in the coffin for any football until preseason.

“My physio is going to contact the BFA to provide specific information regarding their view, but ultimately I’m not going to take any risks regardless.

“As always I will try and help as best I can off the pitch and will also speak with management staff and let them know the details face-to-face when I’m back.”

Wells has not played for Bermuda since last year’s World Cup first-round qualifier against Bahamas, scoring three goals in his country’s 8-0 aggregate win.

The second round of the Caribbean Cup will involve five groups, with the winners and four best runners-up advancing to the third round to be held from October 3 to 9.

Bermuda take on French Guiana in their opening match of the competition in Cayenne on June 1.

Jamaica, Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago have received a bye to the third round because of their involvement in World Cup qualifying matches.