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Hodgson wants Europa final postponed if vocanic ash persists


FULHAM’S manager, Roy Hodgson, has called on UEFA to postpone the Europa League final if the volcanic ash causes more travel chaos ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Atletico Madrid in Hamburg.

The Cottagers, who fielded a much-changed side for the 0-4 loss in their last Barclays Premier League game at Arsenal, faced an arduous journey to get to Germany for the first leg of their semi-final match after European airspace was shutdown following eruptions in Iceland.

The latest burst of ash is now drifting across areas of France, Spain, northern Italy and Germany, bringing more disruption as several airports – including Munich – have been closed. Forecasts suggest that the volcanic cloud could disrupt UK airspace again over the next few days. Fulham is set to fly out today.

Hodgson maintains that should the situation worsen, then Europe’s footballing governing body must take a stance. He said: “We are worried, because they are always talking about changing wind direction, and having to play this game on Sunday does not give us too much alternative.

“It is all very well people saying change the flights, but we can only change that till tomorrow. We are talking about 40 people and a lot of kit – it is not like someone going on a package holiday, it is a major operation.

“We are training tomorrow morning, and I am not expecting to race around and try to contact the players now to say, ‘You had better bring your bags for 9 o’clock tomorrow morning.’ It could be very problematic and I only hope we have the luck to see the ash cloud disappear from the airspace between England and Germany.

“It is a very, very complicated matter and while our administrative team are working on it as best they can, to some extent we are going to be very much in the hands of the aviation authorities. What we can and can’t do will be decided by them, not us.”

With the ash closing Spanish airports, Atletico is likely to face similar problems. Hodgson added: “I do not think it is quite that simple to say ‘the game is Wednesday, you have to get there’, if Madrid are facing a 20-hour journey and we are facing a 30-hour journey, because I do not think this is what the finals are about – they are a great occasion.”

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