Exclusive: reports debunked, Varsity confirmed to go ahead

The Daily Mail had previously reported that the match was set to be cancelled

Barnet's Hive stadium. Photo: Wikimedia

Players in both Oxford and Cambridge’s ‘blues’ football teams have dismissed reports that the annual Varsity match is under threat due to a dispute between the two teams.

The Daily Mail this week reported that a debate over when to stage the women’s game was set to derail the entire competition.

Allegedly, Oxford University Association Football Club (OUAFC) wished to hold the men’s and women’s matches back to back in order to boost attention for the latter, while Cambridge University Association Football Club (CUAFC) were more traditionalist and thus wanted to keep the two on separate days.

They quote an “independent, high level” source as saying: “‘Such are the ructions going on, there’s a possibility the Varsity match will not take place and there could be resignations on both sides. It’s got very personal.”

However Gerda Bachrati, captain of CUAFC Women’s Blues, disputed the Mail’s account, telling Cherwell: “Despite having a natural and traditional rivalry, both clubs were able to unite in an effort to reach their collective goal of finally holding the women’s varsity match on an equal level to the men’s.

“The Daily Mail article is false and discredits the hard work put in by the committees of both clubs.”

Varsity football has struggled to find a permanent home, being most closely associated with Craven Cottage.

The fixture was held at Old Wembley between 1952-1953 and 1987-1988 and has been held at many venues, including Abbey Stadium, the home of Cambridge United FC, and Highbury, Arsenal’s former ground.

Cian Wade, acting OUAFC Men’s Blues captain confirmed: “OUAFC are very pleased and excited that the game has now been agreed for Sunday the 19 March at the Hive as a double header!”

The Hive, home of Barnet FC, has a capacity of 5,176. Barnet, 9th in Sky Bet League Two, officially moved into The Hive in July 2013. It hosted international football in March 2015 when England U20 drew 1-1 with Mexico U20.

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The matches will mark the 132nd men’s Varsity, and the 32nd women’s Varsity. Last year’s fixtures were both won by Oxford, with the men’s match held at Fulham’s Craven Cottage finishing 2-0, while OUWFC narrowly edged out Cambridge 1-0.