PORTADOWN officials anticipate a £40,000 bill for next week’s Europa League trip to Macedonia – over half the prize delivered by UEFA to reward the club for qualification.
Logistical issues with travel arrangements have forced the Ports to charter a private plane from Belfast to Skopje for the party of officials, players and backroom staff.
Monday’s draw in Switzerland handed Portadown a journey to face FK Skendija 79 in the first qualifying round.
Although ties were originally scheduled for July 5 and 12, club requests this week led to date changes for both games.
A search of commercial travel routes failed to provide viable options due to the size of the Portadown party, forcing officials to seek a private alternative.
It is understood that past European budgets were set around the £15,000 mark.
“It has been a nightmare this week to be honest, with less than a week for the club to arrange everything between the draw and first match,” said Ports boss, Ronnie McFall. “Gone are the days when you could hope for a big club in the draw due to the current structure.
“Everything seems geared towards the big clubs and television money but all we can do is approach the situation in a professional manner.
“We head out on Sunday and that puts extra pressure on our friendly games to boost the fitness of the squad given the short space of time.
“We are going in blind in terms of what to expect from Skendija but can only keep our focus on the two games and prepare as best as possible.
“The timing is far from ideal as the players only recently returned to pre-season training and last weekend’s match with Cliftonville was our first friendly.
“Some players will miss the games due to holidays and injury but that is all part of the experience.
“However, once it is game time then the various problems will disappear as everything turns to the actual match and putting in a strong performance.”