What became of Scotland and Ireland’s Euro 2008 venues?

Summary: Eight venues across the two countries were to be used to host Euro 2008. With the failure of the bid, infrastructure plans needed to be rethought

Submitting their bid to the UEFA planning committee, the Irish and Scottish Football Associations announced that, should they be awarded the tournament, games would be played in eight venues on both sides of the Irish Sea.

Given that some of the planned venues were in no fit state to host one of the world’s biggest sporting events, a major refurbishment project was promised, but even this was not enough to convince UEFA to give the Celtic bid their approval.

With the failure of the bid, the refurbishment plans were never realised, though some of the grounds were still improved over subsequent years.

So, what were the proposed venues and what happened to them once the Scotland-Ireland bid failed to make the grade?

1) Celtic Park

One of the reasons the Scottish FA had such confidence upon submitting their joint bid for Euro 2008 was that they could rightly claim to already have some of the best football grounds in the whole of the continent at their disposal.

Celtic Park was one of the highlights of the bid. The home of Celtic FC, the Glasgow ground already had a capacity in excess of 60,000 when the bid was officially submitted to UEFA, meaning there was no need for the FA to pledge to expand it. What’s more, it was also in a very good state of repair, having been improved throughout the 1990s, meaning only minimal refurbishment would have been needed.

Since the failed bid for the 2008 tournament, Celtic Park has been used for concerts, Scotland international football matches and as a host venue for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

2) Ibrox

Despite dating back to 1899, the home of Rangers FC was another stadium that was already up to the required standard for hosting international football when the bid was submitted.

The Glasgow ground could hold more than 50,000 spectators, making it one of the biggest football venues in the whole of Europe, while long-standing chairman David Murray had helped modernise facilities, again making refurbishment unnecessary.

3) Hampden Park

The third of the planned Glasgow venues, Hampden is the oldest football ground in the whole of Scotland and is seen as the home of football in the country.

As with the other two proposed venues in the city, it was a top modern stadium at the time of the bid, having been completely refurbished to meet international safety regulations. In fact, Hampden played host to the 2002 Champions League Final, confirming its status as one of the continent’s finest football grounds.

Since the failed bid, it has continued to be the home of the Scottish national team and is frequently used for concerts and other major spectator events.

4) Murrayfield

Despite being a rugby venue, the Edinburgh stadium had been earmarked as the showpiece ground of Euro 2008, with the final of the championships to have been held here. As well as boasting a famously-raucous atmosphere, the ground had also been recently-refurbished for the Rugby World Cup.

Since the Scottish-Irish bid failed, Murrayfield has continued to be the home of Scottish rugby and it is also regularly used for concerts and other big events.

5 and 6) Easter Road, Aberdeen, Dundee

The bid stated that two of three prospective grounds in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee would be used as host venues should Scotland-Ireland be chosen.

In Edinburgh, Easter Road, which is the home of Hibernian, would have been extended to hold more than 34,000 people, with a new three-tier stand erected down one side. Failure meant this redevelopment never happened, though the ground capacity has been increased steadily over subsequent years.

The bid also laid out plans for a new stadium to be built for Aberdeen FC, with these scrapped as soon as the effort was unsuccessful. Additionally, if the bid had been successful, Dundee United and Dundee could have left their home grounds to move to a shared 30,000-seater stadium in the city.

7) Croke Park or Lansdowne Road

On the other side of the Irish Sea, it was intended that either Croke Park, with a capacity of almost 80,000, or the 35,000-seater Lansdowne Road be used for football. Both their owners, the GAA and the Irish Rugby Association were wary of sharing their grounds, a reluctance that arguably played a part in the bid’s eventual failure.

8) The Stadium of Ireland

The centrepiece of Ireland’s hosting of Euro 2008 was to be a brand-new national football stadium, to be located just outside of Dublin.

Sadly, plans for the ground slowly unraveled, with the Irish government finally admitting it could not afford to fund the project. With the bid unsuccessful, plans for a new national stadium were quietly shelved, though some people in Scotland still blame the shambles that surrounded the Stadium of Ireland project for derailing the whole bid

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