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Dec, 14, 2012

Bastia chief slams French league

The president of Bastia has hit out at the French Football League after the team were forbidden to play their home matches in their own stadium following further fan violence.

The French Football League's (LFP) Disciplinary Commission decided to close the Stade Armand Cesari with immediate effect following unsavoury incidents before, during and after Bastia's home game with Marseille on Wednesday, a match played behind closed doors due to violent incidents involving the Corsican club's fans earlier in the season.

"It's difficult to have a reaction as we're simply left gob-smacked and speechless by the Disciplinary Commission's decision," said Bastia president Pierre-Marie Geronimi. "The club won't let itself be pushed around. We'll appeal against the decision. We'll go to the French Olympic Committee (CNOSF) and we'll take our case to every possible court and body."

Assembled in a car park adjacent to the stadium to watch the Marseille game on a big screen, Bastia fans let off what the commission described in an official statement as "an impressive arsenal" of flares and fireworks throughout the evening of their team's 2-1 defeat, creating "a climate of insecurity around the stadium".

The commission also highlighted Bastia's previous, far-from-unblemished record, with two cases of violence and insults towards match officials from this season still to be examined, and the atmosphere at the stadium of "great insecurity which could put spectators or those involved in the game in danger at any moment" as further reasons for leaving the club with the task of finding another venue to stage their next home match.

Geronimi, however, is adamant his team's potentially crucial encounter with fellow strugglers Nancy on 22 December will take place at the Stade Armand Cesari.

"There's no question of us not playing our game against Nancy, which will be a very important match in terms of the relegation battle, in our stadium," he said, before telling radio station RMC: "It's great to say we can't play at Bastia, but the gentlemen on the Disciplinary Commission need to tell me where we can play and how we get there. We're not magicians. If they'd said to us: 'You have to forfeit the game against Nancy', it would have been the same."

The LFP's Competitions Committee on Friday afternoon designated the Stade Jean-Laville in Gueugnon on the French mainland, some 900km from Bastia, as the venue for the game.

Meanwhile, French media reports state Jo Bonavita, Bastia's logistics manager, has gone on hunger strike after saying he was "outraged" by the LFP's decision.

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