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The BBC's Paul Newman in Charleroi
"Officials said there was no question of the venue being changed"
 real 28k

Kevin Keegan
"Any stadium would be too small for this match"
 real 28k

The BBC's Catherine Robinson
speaks to England supporters in Charleroi
 real 28k

Monday, 3 April, 2000, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
Keegan backs Euro 2000 stadium

Keegan visited the Charleroi stadium where England play Germany
England coach Kevin Keegan has played down suggestions that the Charleroi stadium chosen for England's Euro 2000 clash with Germany is unsuitable.

Keegan was at pains to stress the strengths of the Stade Communal, which has been criticised because it can only hold crowds of 30,000.

The national boss was on the first day of a goodwill mission to the Belgian and Dutch towns that will host England's matches in this summer's tournament.

The trip is designed to show the positive face of English football and allay fears about the potential problems of football hooligans.

Keegan's charm offensive accentuated the positive
Keegan, who visited a local school to take a training session and met fans in the town centre, insisted the Charleroi stadium was adequate for such a high-profile game.

"I think the stadium is a good football stadium, it's not so different to the stadiums we have in England," Keegan said.

"It doesn't matter what stadium we would have played this game in, it would have been too small.

"If it had been in Brussels they would have said 50,000 was too small. So we're very happy."

A temporary tier has been fitted to one of the stadium's stands for the championship.

Crowd safety expert Dr Jim Dickie said last month that the tier would not be granted a safety certificate in the UK.

The temporary section is too steep, the railings too low and there is a risk of people falling, according to Dr Dickie.

"If somebody offered me a ticket for the England-Germany game in this area of the stand I would decline the offer because I think the levels of risk are unacceptably high," he said.

However the English Football Association said the stadium met safety and security criteria laid down by Uefa, European football's governing body.

Keegan is being accompanied on the trip by representatives of the England Members' Club and former England star Trevor Steven, who is acting as an interpreter.

Keegan added: "I think the trip is a great idea. We want to do whatever we can to make sure the towns enjoy having the England team and fans to stay.

"We want to contribute to the success of Euro 2000 off the pitch as well as on it."

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See also:

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Thugs threaten Euro 2000
30 Mar 00 | Football
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30 Mar 00 | Football
Le Saux set to miss Euro 2000
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Keegan's Euro squad takes shape
23 Feb 00 | Football
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