Normally reliable sources have been quick to deny rumours that Gibraltar, who scored their first international goal against Scotland yesterday, may play their home international games at The Valley from next season. 'This looks like an April fool joke that has got out early,' one source commented. 'The fact that we played a Gibraltar XI in our pre-season tour has no relevance. The idea of the network does not extend to international teams.' It would also cause difficulties for the network team in Spain, given that Spain objects to Gibraltar's Uefa status (Fifa have not recognised them).
Gibraltar is the fifth oldest football association in the world, founded in 1895. They have more than 2,600 registered players, 8 per cent of the national population. There is an artificial surface at the 2,400 capacity Victoria Stadium, which hosts all games in the national league (two divisions plus reserves), plus youth matches and training sessions.
Last weekend they had to fit in 19 cup quarter-finals between 4.50 p.m. on Friday and Sunday lunchtime, then two second division senior games. There are plans to build a new stadium at Europa Point which would meet Uefa standards, but the planning and building process could take years.
Home internationals are currently played at Faro in the Algarve, but this involves a 15-hour round trip for fans. It would be quicker and no more expensive for them to fly to London, hence the plan to stage matches in the capital.
However, the few hundred hard core fans would rattle around in The Valley, but any ground chosen would have to meet Uefa standards which some smaller London grounds might not.