FAI in shoot-out with Scotland to host Euro 2020 games

Association’s formal bid is to be lodged with Uefa by next week’s deadline

FAI CEO John Delaney at yesterday’s Irish Sports Council Field Sports Investment announcement at the  Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

FAI CEO John Delaney at yesterday’s Irish Sports Council Field Sports Investment announcement at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Thu, Apr 17, 2014, 01:00

It is now increasingly likely that the FAI’s bid to become one of the 13 host cities for new-look Euro 2020 finals will come down to a straight shoot-out with the Scottish FA.

FAI chief executive John Delaney yesterday confirmed the association’s formal bid is to be lodged with Uefa by next week’s deadline of April 25th. It’s understood they are vying for the package that secures the staging of three group matches and a last-16 tie at the Aviva Stadium.

As Delaney rightly points out, Uefa will apply a degree of geographical spread to the criteria when choosing the successful cities in September.

That would mean, with Wembley a certain inclusion, the other ‘western’ city appears to be between Scotland, Ireland and Wales. What gives Glasgow and Dublin a logistical edge over Cardiff is their two airport terminals, a key concern of Uefa in segregating rival supporters.

Should the Republic of Ireland qualify in unison with the successful hosting bid, the team will have home advantage in two of the group games.

“There was a lot of criticism of the Dublin Airport second terminal at one stage but I am not complaining as it helps our bid,” said Delaney yesterday, at the announcement of €2.7m in funding for football from the Irish Sports Council.

“The main thing is to see who has applied next week. Some countries that said they would apply aren’t now. Both parts won’t be easy. Qualifying will never be easy and, of course, hosting will be difficult.

‘Technical criteria’
“Firstly, you’ve got to meet stringent technical criteria in place but I think it would be geography-political – North, South, East and West. Then it gets down to lobbying.”

While Delaney is adept at manoevering his way around the corridors of power in Uefa, the presence of Scottish native David Taylor in the position of General Secretary at the European football governing body puts the scale of Waterford man’s political task into perspective.

Delaney, meanwhile, confirmed the association is doing it’s best to reverse the pay cuts imposed on staff over the past two years. Queries were put to him by some Development Officers during last week’s staff meeting as to when the 10 per cent reduction implemented in September 2012, originally for an 18-month period, would be restored. “I decided to meet the staff to give them an update about all aspects,” said Delaney who negotiated a debt write-down last year which still leaves the FAI owing €45m.

“Certainly, we gave them our thoughts in terms of what we are going to do in terms of restoring some pay and aspects.”

Delaney said the FAI have “agreed in principle” to play Costa Rica in Philadelphia on June 6th and Portugal in New York on June 10th. They also expect to arrange another friendly in Dublin on Thursday, September 4th as preparation for the opening Euro 2016 qualifier in Georgia four days later.

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