FAI confident of making strong case to host games for Euro 2020 finals
Association looking to beat off strong competition to host four games
FAI chief executive John Delaney hopes Ireland can host four games. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
The FAI will head for Nyon next month to receive final instructions from Uefa on how to progress their bid to host four Euro 2020 games.
The association will be hopeful of progressing well beyond the preliminary long list issued by Uefa after its executive committee meeting in Dubrovnik yesterday. Thirty two countries have submitted 39 prospective host cities, the European federation revealed with several, it seems, still hedging their bets ahead of the final deadline on April 25th.
John Delaney, however, confirmed the intention of the FAI to pursue its Aviva Stadium bid for next September’s final selection process, stating: “The FAI Board remains fully committed to making a formal bid for Dublin as one of the Uefa Euro 2020 host cities. The association will be working hard in the coming months on mounting a competitive and attractive bid to build on the success of hosting the Uefa Europa League final.”
The fact Britain and Ireland are on course to generate four separate bids between them may be a concern, with the odds stacked against all of them succeeding. The Scottish and Welsh associations, with whom the FAI had originally expressed an interest in hosting the entire tournament when Uefa’s options for a traditional hosting format were looking bleak, have each apparently joined the Irish in bidding for three group games and one knockout match, with their respective national stadiums nominated.
The English, meanwhile, are on course to bid for both a group/knockout package and the loftier prize of the semi-finals and final. With the latter likely to go to Turkey, however, they are likely to be among the strongest contenders for the earlier round matches, although all of the Continent’s major footballing powers are in the race too. However, with Uefa president Michel Platinisuggesting the use of clusters is likely, it seems Dublin may succeed in co-hosting a part of the tournament along with the likes of Glasgow, Cardiff or London. Air transport between London and Dublin, in particular, is good. Dublin also has regular flights to many of the other cities to have bid, with the likes of Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Lyon all reasonably accessible.
The FAI will see their successful hosting of the 2011 Europa League as a hugely positive starting point for their bid. Although they were unfortunate that one of the finalists, Braga, had a very small fanbase, the fact that the game didn’t sell out tends to highlight the downside of requiring people from Europe to fly around for individual games.
Still, with the association having worked successfully with key organisations like Dublin City Council, the Garda, the Dublin Airport Authority and CIE back then, and most of their own bid team for that game likely to involved again, they will be confident of at least making a strong case for a share of the prize.
Inevitably, many of their rivals will feel the same way, with quite a few cities with impressive records of staging very big games having submitted preliminary expressions of interest. Some of those less well known as venues, meanwhile, are likely to have pretty lavish budgets behind them.
“I think it’s very good news that everyone has welcomed the idea, and that 32 countries want to take part in this great European football festival,” Platini said yesterday. “I understand completely, because you give the possibility to a country to take part with one major stadium, instead of having to build eight stadiums to participate, I think this is an important advantage.”