THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

20 May ~ Last Tuesday Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland notified UEFA that they intend to bid to host Euro 2020. So did Turkey, who appear to be the favourites, although UEFA are not happy about their recent match-fixing problems. Georgia were the only other nation to declare their interest by UEFA’s deadline, in what was originally meant to be a joint bid with Azerbaijan, who are not interested any more. Scotland and Ireland’s bid to host Euro 2008 was shambolic and the competition will have increased in size by 2020 – as requested by Scotland, Ireland and Wales – from 16 to 24 teams. So why might they succeed now where they recently failed?

Wales's involvement could make a big difference. UEFA notified their members recently that they will consider combined bids from three nations. Each bid needs nine appropriate stadiums: two with at least 50,000 seats, three more with at least 40,000 and four with at least 30,000. Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, which has a capacity of 74,500, would be a perfect addition to Scotland and Ireland's large world-class grounds.

Ibrox, Hampden and Celtic Park all have capacities above 50,000 in Glasgow. In Edinburgh, Murrayfield – the home of Scottish rugby, which has been used for football before – holds 67,200. Dublin's shiny new Aviva Stadium holds 51,700. That provides six grounds with more than 50,000 seats. And there is a seventh.

The 2008 bid was characterised by uncertainty over the use of Croke Park, Dublin's 82,300-capacity cathedral of Gaelic sports. Although Croke Park hosted football while the Aviva Stadium was being built, the Gaelic Athletics Association (GAA) will not let football overshadow hurling and Gaelic football, and the SFA and FAI never managed to get them involved in their bid for 2008.

The 2020 bid could stand or fall on whether the football associations can work with the GAA. Because it's not just Croke Park. Limerick, County Mayo and North Tipperary all have GAA stadiums with more than 30,000 seats, the size of grounds the bid otherwise currently lacks.

Which is where Wales may provide another piece of the puzzle. Swansea have applied to increase the capacity of the Liberty Stadium beyond 30,000. The city should be involved in the bid, as should Aberdeen and Dundee.

Aberdeen currently plan to build a 21,000-seat stadium on the outskirts of the city. Dundee and Dundee United play across the street from each other, in grounds that could do with a lick of paint. If the SFA and Scottish government help fund a 30,000-seat stadium for each city, the clubs might even be able to afford to bring some ticket prices down in an attempt to fill them.

France 2016 is using ten stadiums. If the SFA, FAI and FAW play their cards right they could have 11 or 12 grounds that are more than suitable without too much expense. There has never been a major senior football tournament in Scotland, Ireland or Wales, while Scotland has a longer football heritage and more famous fans than almost any other country. How many other major tournaments have had seven 50,000-plus-seat stadiums built before the start of the bidding process?

One of the biggest reasons for optimism is that the SFA are no longer the bunch of bowling club blazers they were just a few years ago. They've got their work cut out, but they're now an organisation that can make things happen. And Istanbul is also bidding for the 2020 Olympics – UEFA have said that if they get that, they can't have Euro 2020 too.

Maybe, just maybe, Scotland-Ireland-Wales's main problem in eight years' time could be deciding which top stadiums miss out on the high-profile games. Mark Poole

Comments (12)
Comment by ooh aah 2012-05-20 13:33:56

Ireland and Wales would be great. Scotland and Wales would be great. Scotland and Ireland would be great. Scotland, Ireland, and Wales is just silly.

Comment by FCKarl 2012-05-20 20:19:01

If this is all there is to be (just Turkey, Georgia or Wales Scotland Ireland) for the 2020 host decision, then, hands down, the place to choose is Wales, Scotland, and Ireland.

It would be terribly premature to worry much about stadia for 2020. Goodness. That's eight long years from now. Plenty of time to brush up infrastructure, do stadium renovations, or build one new one -- if needed at all. I mean, if we can watch in dismay as Poland, and more so the Ukraine stumble about and finally have things ready at the eleventh hour, no one would need be concerned about the planning, organizing, and preparation skills of the Scots-Irish-Welsh trio.

The only questions would be: Outside of Dublin, where else in Ireland would be suitable? What does/might Cork have? And the same for Scotland. Outside Glasgow, what can exceed 50,000? (I am tired of tiny stadiums of 30,000 when you've got a matchup like Netherlands versus Germany or Spain versus France or Italy.)

From a footballing cultural standpoint, Ireland, Scotland, Turkey trumps anything that Turkey or Georgia can offer. Georgia would be a real adventure, but I don't see them with the necessary infrastructure to even begin to dream of hosting 24 teams for an intense 5-week period.

Turkey remains well too unstable a land. Unreliable. Unsafe.

Glad that Wales, Scotland, and Ireland have put in the bid! They'll win this UEFA bid competition, and I'll be there with friends and family! It would be a fantastic time of footballing celebration. Call it the "Ferry Boat Euros!" My pick: Opener in Dublin. Final in Cardiff.

Comment by Banana Banana 2012-05-20 21:18:53

Scotland's bid for 2012 was rejected because 3 of the 50,000 seater stadia were in the same city. Would this still be a fatal blow?

Comment by ooh aah 2012-05-21 10:12:13

The 2012 Olympic stadium design could be a major factor in allowing smaller countries like Wales and Scotland to co-host. Being able to reduce the capacity from 45-50,000 down to 20,000 or lower after the event removes the white elephant nature of the stadia that now exist in Portugal. So you could temporarily have a city like Cork, Kilmarnock or Newport hosting a championship match, and then halving the capacity afterwards.

But three hosts is too many, and Wales would likely be the junior partner of the 3, not getting the opener or the final, even though Cardiff has the best stadium. It would be a bit like when the RWC was hosted in France, and a QF match was played at Cardiff.

Comment by reddybrek 2012-05-21 12:24:17

A Celtic or English bid is unlikely to win the current set up at UEFA or FIFA.

The 2008 Scotland and Ireland bid was barely even considered by UEFA. The English 06 and 18 world cup bids were up in flames before a single FIFA delegate had even bothered to visit English stadiums.

An appalling way ride roughshod over the games heritage and history. I hope the other home nations FAs and governments spend next to nothing on this current bid. Put UEFA delegates in bed and breakfasts. Dont wine and dine them. Remember to check their expenses very carefully.

“We dont care if you dont like service station sandwiches Mr Platini. In any case you are not exactly malnourished are you?”

The Celtic bids will be last choice at the bottom of the pile. Turkey are nailed on to get it provided the Istanbul Olympic bid fails in which case the 2020 Euros will go to Georgia or anyone else who happens to bid against nations from these isles.

Comment by ingoldale 2012-05-21 15:20:54

I'd like to see them host too but I just think it's a bit rubbish having all these tournaments where two teams qualify automatically. Especially as Poland and Ukraine are only outsiders to qualify for the knock-out stage. just like Switzerland and Austria. 3 is taking the biscuit.

If I was Ireland I'd reject that though in favour of a bid with N.I. You could have Croke Park, Landsdowne, Thomond Park, Windsor Park, the big ground down in Cork (if you could persuade the Corcaigh GAA), a renovated Derry Cities ground plus two others as there are plenty of huge GAA grounds in Ireland. You never know, football could to sectarianism what the RWC was to apartheid.

I think Turkey are clear favourites for next one as they bid with France initially for 2016 and they are having a sporting cultural revolution with Winter Olympics, Tour of Turkey cycling race getting lots of publicity etc. Not mention the fact that they are mental on football. Plus UEFA will see it as a 'new market' as half of Turkey is in Asia. Ker-ching.

Comment by Englischer Gartner 2012-05-21 18:35:02

"If I was Ireland I'd reject that though in favour of a bid with N.I"

Ha ha. We've already staged a Euro finals tournament single-handed (Mens' U-21 in 2005). No reason why the South (or Wales or Scotland) couldn't do the same.

"You never know, football could be to sectarianism what the RWC was to apartheid"

A reinforcement to it?

Comment by donedmundo 2012-05-21 18:40:43

Probably nearer 97% of Turkey is in Asia.

Turkey could just about handle the championship. A combination of new and old grounds could meet UEFA's demands. The problem of what to do with 40,000 seater stadiums when the tournament finishes remains.

I don't see how Georgia could hold it. They have only one ground that would satisfy UEFA's demands. Average wages in Georgia hover around £4,000 p.a. Can they justify the cost of eight or nine major new stadiums that will be largely unused when the tournament finishes?

The major difficulty for Turkey and Georgia will be persuading foreign fans to go. We see this already with Ukraine.

None of the three options fills me with great joy.

Comment by Alex Walker 2012-05-21 22:56:34

None of it sounds promising. Cheeky bid from England?

Comment by FCKarl 2012-05-22 06:38:19

Has there been an article here on these pages exploring the daffyness of UEFA planning with 24 finalists starting with the Euro 2016 to be held in France? That means half the European nations are a lock for the final tournament. Please reveal, what then is the point of holding qualifiers? They'd be just about meaningless. So the idea that Ireland, Wales, and Scotland are scarfing up three of the coveted positions falls flat; there would still be 21 open slots to fight for in some convoluted Euro 2020 qualifying scheme. I predict that a larger field of 24 finalists will just result in mediocre teams from some nations and some really rather dull contests (sort of like Greece versus Sweden in Euro 2008).

Comment by Sanchez_82 2012-05-22 17:06:04

Unfortunately Monsieur Platini nailed his colours to Turkey's mast before inviting others to apply, hence why only 2 other bids arrived in UEFAs inbox. The 'decision process' has been completed and as great an idea a Celtic Euro's would be, they're wasting their time on this one......

Comment by FCKarl 2012-05-22 18:14:20

So, if I read others here right, and if Turkey is indeed an UEFA "lock" to win the Euro 2020 as host, maybe this is the tit for tat? (One hand washes another?) As UEFA Grand Pooh-Baah, Michelle (misspelling on purpose) Platini rams through France as hosts for 2016. He gets his way but must "sell" the subsequent Euro 2020 to Turkey -- yes, that Turkey, the other bidder for the 2016 finals tournament.

Ah, gotta love those predetermined outcomes.

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