Arsenal will kick off their Europa League group stage away at FC Zurich this Thursday. However, fans travelling for the game should be aware that the Gunners will not be playing in the side’s home city.
Instead, Arsenal will be playing in St Gallen’s stadium, which is a 78.7km drive away from Zurich’s home ground. The slightly smaller ground named Kybunpark has a smaller capacity of 19,700 compared to Zurich’s 26,104 Letzigrund arena.
The reason for the switch is perhaps quite an odd one. The Diamond League athletics event is set to be hosted in Zurich’s ground on the 7th and 8th of September; therefore, FC Zurich will be unable to use it for the game.
FC Zurich share the Letzigrund with their local rivals Grasshopper, so it is not solely their home. The ground was built due to the successful bid to host Euro 2008 and both the club sides benefitted from having a new ground.
Despite this, even music has taken precedence over football. Zurich won the first leg of their Europa League qualifier against Hearts in the St Gallen stadium after the Letzigrund played host to Swiss rock and folk double act Gola and Trauffer on Friday and had to be prepared for the concert, which increased the capacity to 50,000.
St Gallen’s stadium is a regular host of the Switzerland national side’s games and therefore meets UEFA standards. Granit Xhaka will therefore feel very at home should he play.