LONDON: Wales and Scotland, who paraded high-minded concern about their footballing independence as an excuse to snub Britain’s Olympic football project for London 2012, have forgotten all that writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The potential financial bonanza which will be the 2020 European Championship has prompted the Fooball Association of Wales and the SFA – together with the Republic of Ireland – to register joint bid potential with European federation UEFA.
Yesterday was the deadline for expressions of interest and until the British Isles trio jumped in the only registration had come, as expected, from Turkey which had been beaten by France by one vote when UEFA’s executive voted for the 2016 hosting of a tournanent which has been expanded to an intimidatory 24 teams.
This summer’s finals, in Poland and Ukraine, will be last with the 16-teamn format which has proved such a success since being introduced at Euro 96 in England.
Bidders would need to put forward up to 10 stadiums to host matches in the European Championships, which is being expanded from 16 teams to 24 from 2016.
Scotland and Wales would struggle to provide that number of stadiums to satisfy UEFA requirements but Ireland’s involvement would cover the shortfall.
The formal declaration of interest does not commit the Celtic countries to proceeding with a bid, however – a decision is not due to be taken by UEFA for 18 months.
The countries have not fared well in the past in bidding for the tournament. Scotland and the Republic of Ireland bid jointly for Euro 2008 but were one of the first to be eliminated, and Scotland and Wales considered bidding jointly for Euro 2016 but decided against it.
Turkey’s bid is in some disarray already because their FA has been engulfed by allegations of corruption and match-fixing in Turkish football, and it also conflicts with Istanbul’s bid to land the Olympics in the same year.
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