Word has reached us that there is a possibility that the date of Arsenal's last match in the current Champions League group will be changed.
Valencia are pressing UEFA to agree to move the match from
Wednesday March 19th to Tuesday 18th.
The main reason for this is that the match falls around the time
of "Las Fallas", which is a big festival that'll be taking
the city over for 5 days. As we understand it, the last night
of Fallas is the 19th, a night when there will be hundreds of thousands of people in the city to see the massive fires, burning effigies, and spectacular fireworks display.
Valencia's press officer Jordi Bruixola has today confirmed that they want to move the game to the 18th, citing "security concerns". It's a little confusing because Valencians refer to the 18th as the last night of the festival, and think of the 19th as the public holiday which follows the festival (so everyone is out drinking in the streets on the 18th). But to an outsider the 19th looks like the last night. On both nights the city will be packed with people, and it's only after the 19th that everyone packs up and goes home. Security-wise it's hard to see what advantage there is to the 18th. Perhaps they just want to be able to go out on the town on the 19th (and perhaps from travelling Arsenal fans point of view that'd be a good thing too!).
It's also worth noting that the city will be extremely noisy the night before the match (whenever it is), so we hope the club have taken this into account when booking somewhere for the team to stay.
Valencia also want it moved to the 18th because that night is the club's anniversary (founded 18th March 1919).
Yesterday evening Spanish radio actually announced that UEFA have already agreed to the change. This is now said to be false,
but UEFA are considering a request from Valencia.
Switching the game would not be a simple matter. Since it's the last match of the group the Roma vs Ajax game would have to be moved too. The way things are going it's looking far from unlikely that knowing the result of the game in Spain in advance would be an advantage (to Ajax).
So don't go panicking yet. But if you are travelling to the game,
we recommend that you
1) go for a few days.. Las Fallas is quite a spectacle by all accounts, and
2) book your accommodation right now, including both the 18th and 19th to be sure. Fallas brings hundreds of thousands of people into the city, raising hotel prices (and rooms are running out already).
Many thanks to Ben Frost who has been keeping us posted about the date change rumours, and to Gareth Machin, a Gooner living in Valencia who has sent this preview, which includes
a description of the festival as well as stuff about the Valencia team.
Another update which makes a bit more sense of the date-change request....
It seems that while most of the effigies and so on that are burnt on the night of the 19th go up at midnight, there are
some (for the kiddies) which are set off at 10pm. So at this
time the streets will be closed and heaving with people.
And the thing is, there is one right outside the Mestalla (Valencia's ground).
So that's why there's a security issue on the 19th that isn't there on the 18th. It does seem quite possible that the date of the match will be changed.