Newcastle's concern over Norway trip

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The Independent Football

Newcastle United have urged Uefa to think again about their European trip to Norway next month amid continuing uncertainty over the fixture.

In December, United were drawn to play Valerenga in their Uefa Cup third round, first leg in Olso on 26 February, but the Oslo club immediately voiced concerns over weather conditions which they feel could force a postponement.

The Magpies have had talks with the Norwegians to try to find an alternative venue - a ground in Denmark or even Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium have been suggested - but now Uefa, the governing body of European football, have told them that the game could be played at the Trondheim home of Rosenborg, some 500 kilometres and a six-and-a-half-hour train journey away.

"The club is doing everything possible to resolve what is proving to be a difficult issue," said a spokesman. "Regrettably, it is being hampered by circumstances beyond its control.

"The club received notification on Friday from the English Football Association that Uefa had decided that this match would be played in the Ullevaal Stadium in Oslo.

"Uefa further confirmed that in the event that the game could not take place in Oslo, then Rosenborg's Lerkendal Stadium in Trondheim would be the second choice venue the next day.

"Newcastle United immediately raised objections with Uefa with regard to both of these decisions, which ignored all the issues the club has raised in previous correspondence and which place both Newcastle United and travelling supporters at risk in numerous ways.

"The fact that Valerenga has been required to name a second-choice venue clearly demonstrates that Uefa are far from confident that the game will take place on 26 February because of the historical weather conditions and fixture history in Oslo during that month.

"This is a view also held by Valerenga, which they have verbally confirmed to United on a number of occasions.

"United have told Uefa that their instructions are totally unacceptable given Trondheim's location and have again repeated their original suggestion that the first-leg game is played in a location where the game can go ahead without the clearly evident difficulties that both the existing proposals carry for both sets of fans.

"The requirement for an additional journey and accommodation would result in possibly insurmountable travel difficulties, let alone unnecessary additional travel and accommodation expenses for supporters.

"On this basis and taking into account the concerns shared by all three parties [Uefa, Valerenga and Newcastle United], the club is in no doubt that Uefa should establish a venue where the game has more than an even chance of taking place on 26 February and have once again urged them to do so.

"The club naturally respects Valerenga's and their own fans' home advantage position in all of this, but the weather factors cannot be ignored.

"The club spoke to a senior Uefa Official on Monday, to once again voice these concerns and are currently awaiting a response."

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