SERBIA last night finally confirmed they will play their World Cup qualifier with Scotland on 26 March in Novi Sad.
The Balkan nation wanted to host the March tie in Nis, but the stadium is still undergoing renovations and terrible weather conditions delayed the building work on the ground. That’s meant they had to look for another venue, especially as they passed Fifa’s 90-day deadline rule for naming the host stadium. And they have chosen to take the Scots to Serbia’s second largest city of Novi Sad – where they thrashed Wales 6-1 in a Group A qualifier last year.
Zoran Lakovic, Secretary General of the Serbia FA, said: “In consultation with our coach Sinisa Mihajlovic, we have chosen to hold the Scotland game in Novi Sad. We waited until the last moment for Nis to be ready, but when we couldn’t get assurances everything would be completed for March, we were forced to change the venue. So we will play Scotland at Vojvodina’s stadium.”
However, that will cause a major headache for the Tartan Army, who now face a ticket scramble. The Karadorde Stadium has a reduced capacity of just over 12,000 seats for international matches and with the Scots only entitled to a minimum of just eight per cent of briefs under an agreement reached with the Group A teams, that will leave Scotland fans scrambling for around 960 tickets.
And Welsh fans who travelled to the city – which is an hour from Belgrade – complained about poor organisation from the local authorities. The Serbs were later handed a £3,336 fine by Fifa for the ‘improper conduct’ of their fans during the September encounter and were also told to pay additional costs of £667.
The stadium’s record attendance of 30,000 came when Celtic played there in the 1967 European Cup quarter-final. The Yugoslav champions defeat the Scots 1-0, before Jock Stein’s eventual champions overturned the tie with a 2-0 second-leg win.