Summary: The experience of bidding for Euro 2020 should help both Scotland and Ireland be host nations for the 2020 competition.
The joint bid by Scotland and Ireland to host the European football championships of 2008 looks more likely to go down in history as an absolute fiasco rather than a glorious failure.
However, all is not lost for the Celtic nations, as both they, as well as Wales, are strongly in the running to play host to Euro 2020, a tournament UEFA promises will eclipse all others.
Under the plans announced by UEFA President Michel Platini, instead of being held in one country or even across two nations, the 2020 event will be held right the way across Europe. According to the French football legend, this will add an extra sense of “romance” to proceedings in order to mark the 60th birthday of the European Championship competition.
Just as with the normal bidding process for the rights to host the tournament, cities across Europe have been invited to state why they should host either the group games or even the group games and the semi-finals or the final.
Glasgow and Dublin strong contenders to host group games
Unsurprisingly given the prestige of the tournament, both Scotland and Ireland have submitted bids to be hosts. In the case of Scotland, it is hoped that games will be played at Hampden Park in Glasgow. The ground can hold in excess of 52,000 people, is well-connected to the city centre and to the rest of the UK and, most importantly, needs no major redevelopments.
Ireland, meanwhile, are confident that the Aviva Stardium in Dublin will make the grade. The ground, which is one of the newest national stadiums in the whole of Europe, boasts a capacity of 51,700 and, just like the Glasgow venue, is well-connected by public transport links and, of course, needs no redevelopment.
Given that both Scotland and Ireland have bid for UEFA’s ‘standard package’, meaning they will host group games but none of the showpiece matches such as the final, and since 12 of the 17 possible cities will get the nod, both countries have reason to be optimistic.
Rival cities may lack necessary infrastructure
Indeed, several of their rival cities would need to invest millions of pounds redeveloping grounds in order to be able to host a Euro 2020 match. Bulgaria’s planned venue, for example, currently holds just 16,000 people and, even with fresh investment, the maximum capacity will still only be raised to 24,000. Similarly, Minsk in Belarus is gunning to be a host city, even though its main ground also only holds 16,500 people right now.
At the same time, however, UEFA could decide to use the special anniversary tournament to spread the competition to new corners of Europe. Macedonia, for instance, has never held a major event and, with a brand new 35,000-seater stadium ready in Skopje, it could be given the nod, as could Jerusalem and even Azerbaijan.
Again, however, the numbers are in Scotland and Ireland’s favour. 12 of the 17 bidding cities will be chosen in late September and, thanks to their rich sporting pedigree as well as their modern infrastructures, Glasgow and Dublin will surely be among them.