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Feb 26, 2013

Evian' Swiss ground move halted

UEFA have told Evian they will not be able to play stage Ligue 1 games in the Swiss city of Geneva as the club's search for a permanent, state-of-the-art home continues.

The French club, which is owned by food giant Danone, has been playing its home matches at the outdated Parc des Sports in Annecy since joining the top-flight for the first time ever in 2011. Undeterred by having a similar request rejected in 2010, a Franco-Swiss delegation travelled to UEFA HQ in Nyon on Monday to make a case for the club to be able to make Geneva's Stade de la Praille their home.

The 30,000-capacity venue, which was completed in 2003 and hosted games at Euro 2008, lies less than an hour's drive from Evian, and the delegation emphasised during their meeting with UEFA president Michel Platini and UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino the swathe of cross-border initiatives which are soon to be put into effect.

Though sympathetic to the predicament of the club, Platini pointed out UEFA regulations do not allow clubs to play their games in national competitions outside the confines of their country's borders.

UEFA's rejection will only darken the mood of Evian coach Pascal Dupraz, who offered his resignation following last weekend's defeat to Montpellier, which left his team in the relegation zone after picking up just four points from their last nine games.

Dupraz, 50, told L'Equipe the club's lack of proper training facilities, which has meant the first team holding practice sessions at a number of venues this season, is penalising his squad

"One of my first coaches, Pierre Tournier, said that you play in the same way you train. Well, we're training badly," Dupraz said. "We're always being shipped around from left to right. Which other professional club trains on a ripped artificial pitch? There comes a time when you pay for that. You just have to accept that it's part of the building of a club."

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