The Loughborough University Stadium is to stage three qualifying matches for the UEFA European Under 17 Championship this month. The matches from group 6 of the ‘elite round’ of tournament will see teams from Portugal, Russia and Slovenia competing on campus to qualify for the finals.
Only the group winners will progress to the final tournament, being held in Slovakia on 5-17 May. The England Under 17 team complete the four teams in group 6, but the home side will play their matches at the Bescot Stadium, Walsall and the Pirelli Stadium in Burton upon Trent.
However, the proximity of Loughborough to the new National Football Centre at St George’s Park in Burton was one of the major factors in the University being approached to stage the matches.
As England will be the home nation in group 6, the Football Association will be hosting the group matches on behalf of UEFA. Speaking about the forthcoming matches the Football Association said: “We are delighted that the facilities at the Loughborough University Stadium are going to be hosting international football this week. With four nations competing in the qualifiers for a place in the UEFA Euro Finals, some of Europe’s top young footballing talent will be on show.
“We are sure that people will enjoy watching potential stars of the future over the course of the three games.”
The fixtures are the latest major event to be held at the Stadium, which was opened in May 2012. In the last year academy teams from Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United have played matches against Loughborough Students Football. The stadium has also hosted the legendary Barbarians rugby side and the visit of the Olympic Torch Relay.
Andy Borrie, Deputy Director of Sport at Loughborough University, said: “I am very pleased that we have been able to bring international football to Loughborough, in collaboration with the Football Association.
“The UEFA European Under 17 qualifying matches demonstrates that we can attract top class sporting fixtures to our campus, and that the stadium has been an excellent addition to our impressive range of sporting facilities.”
The dates and times for the three qualifying matches are:
Saturday 23 March Slovenia v Russia 2pm kick off
Monday 25 March Portugal v Slovenia 2pm kick off
Thursday 28 March Russia v Portugal 3pm kick off