Ukraine grounds fit for purpose – unlike Hodgson's logistics


Click to follow
The Independent Online

At night the Donbass Arena is lit up, casting a blue glow across the parkland that surrounds it. Despite controversy over racism, pricing, inadequate infrastructure and a lack of accommodation, there is one area where it is possible to cast Euro 2012 in a positive light; its stadiums are happily fit for purpose.

England kick off their tournament on Monday in the Donbass, home of Shakhtar Donetsk, the champions of Ukraine. Designed by the architects behind the Allianz Arena in Munich, the Donbass was the only one of the four Ukrainian stadiums that did not require upgrading or rebuilding. It was completed three years ago at a cost of £225m – money provided by Rinat Akhmetov, the industrial billionaire who bankrolls the club – and it has a capacity of 50,000.

The stadium sits in the middle of Donetsk, which was founded in the 19th century by a Welshman, John Hughes. It is a starkly industrial city, and England's players will be able to pick out a slagheap and pit head from the nearest coalmine as they make their way to the Arena.

England will make the 930-mile journey from Krakow on Sunday. France will have a 30-minute coach ride from Shakhtar's training ground. Like the stadium it is as good as any in England but it also includes accommodation. Fabio Capello was determined not to repeat the mistakes of the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 and isolate the squad – it was he who insisted on Krakow – but the Shakhtar training facility, while close to the city, is also secluded from fans and media. The German FA reserved it and the Dutch FA was interested. The French snapped it up after the draw sent Germany to Poland.

England meet Sweden at the Olympic stadium in Kiev, necessitating a 540-mile journey. Sweden will come from Dynamo's training centre, on the outskirts of the city.