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Official Review by Gary Foxall, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The GSP Stadium was built in 1999 and is home to all three of Nicosia’s soccer teams, APOEL, Omonia, and Olympiakos. The stadium has an all seated capacity of 22,859 and is Cyprus’s only UEFA accredited stadium. Therefore, in addition to serving as the National Soccer team’s home stadium it also hosts the UEFA games of any other club from the country that qualifies for European competition.
Although small compared to other international venues, the stadium is homely and forms part of a complex that also has an athletics stadium next door in addition to training pitches and facilities. The stadium is comprised of four separate stands of which three have no cover. The main stand housing all of the stadium’s facilities has a roof, although this does not protract far enough to cover all of the stand’s seats. The stadium’s record attendance was set in 2002 when 23,043 witnessed the Cypriot League game between APOEL and Omonia.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Kiosks inside the stadium sell croissants, sandwiches, and pretzels along with sweets, and hot and cold drinks. The food concourses are not of the standard of other European venues. The food on offer is of decent quality, although slightly expensive. The food vans outside the stadium offer better value with large Donner Kebab and chips costing 5 Euros.
I'm not sure what the atmosphere is like for the other Nicosia clubs, or the National team who are noted for attracting low attendance, but APOEL fans make the venue atmospheric for their European games and the one I attended against Bordeaux was no exception. Noise volumes are high and even with 9,000 in the stadium due to a UEFA crowd ban in one stand, the atmosphere was good.
Nicosia is the capital and largest city on the island of Cyprus and is a very popular holiday destination due to its hot climate. Nicosia is the last remaining divided capital city in the world with its northern part functioning as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Most people head to the resorts of Paphos, Limassol, and Ayia Napa. Nicosia is well worth a visit. It has many tourist areas and is the main business hub of the island. In addition to the city's pedestrian shopping area, Nicosia is also well equipped with shopping malls, hotels and restaurants to cover all budgets.
Eating out can be expensive, but meals are large and offer good value. I didn't eat in Nicosia as I was staying with family, but if visiting I would recommend eating in local eating houses as opposed to the chain restaurants. There is not a lot to entertain you in the vicinity of the GSP Stadium so going into the city centre beforehand is recommended.
APOEL and Omonia are the two bigger clubs out of the three Nicosia teams in terms of fan base with home attendances fluctuating between 8,000-10,000 for both. Olympiakos are not quite as fortunate with average crowds less than 2,000. APOEL supporters are boisterous and the club has recently seen parts of the stadium closed due to racial chanting during a Europa League game. Flares are also common place at Cypriot games.
The stadium is located to the south of Nicosia about six kilometres away from the city centre. It is easily accessed from the A1 motorway and is visible as you exit the city. There is plenty of car parking at the venue but getting away after the game is difficult. The nearest airports are Nicosia, Paphos, and Larnica.
Tickets for the Europa League game that I attended ranged between 20 and 30 Euro and league games start at about 17 Euro for adults. The standard of football on offer is nowhere near to that which you will find in other European countries so in terms of action on the field the return on investment is poor.
There is an APOEL Fan wagon based outside of the stadium and kiosks inside selling a range of club souvenirs. A club bar is also located under the Main Stand. As a collector of match programmes APOEL issued two different ones for the game I attended in addition to a club magazine.
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