WARSAW: Portugal and Poland have followed the Czech Republic and Finland in stepping back from bidding to host matches in the expanded 2020 European Championship writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The plan to spread the group stage of the finals across the European federation was announced by UEFA president Michel Platini in the summer of 2012.

However, a number of countries which expressed interest have since decided either not to pursue the issue or have announced a formal withdrawal from the process.

Portugal stepped back after the city council in Lisbon decided not to approve a bid, following the example set by the northern city of  Oporto.

Poland followed suit almost immediately.

Federation president Zbigniew Boniek said: “We estimated that our chances of landing any matches for Warsaw and Chorzow were minimal so it makes sense not to spend any more time on the idea.”

Friday is the deadline for the submission of bids. Platini may be disappointed at seeing high-profile European football nations snub the tournament.

The vast majority of associations put forward one city as their contender for Euro 2020 with the exception of Spain (Bilbao and Madrid), Italy (Milan and Rome) and Ukraine (Donetsk and Kyiv). The other cities to meet the deadline were: Armenia (Yerevan), Azerbaijan (Baku), Belarus (Minsk), Belgium (Brussels), Bulgaria (Sofia), Croatia (Zagreb), Denmark (Copenhagen), England (London), France (Lyon), FYR Macedonia (Skopje), Germany (Munich), Greece (Athens), Hungary (Budapest), Israel (Jerusalem), Kazakhstan (Astana), Netherlands (Amsterdam), Ireland (Dublin), Romania (Bucharest), Russia (St Petersburg), Scotland (Glasgow), Serbia (Belgrade), Sweden (Solna), Switzerland (Basel), Turkey (Istanbul) and Wales (Cardiff).

Italy is set to present Rome as its only bid city. Candidates must submit their final bid dossier by April 25. The appointment of the host cities by the Uefa Executive Committee will take place on September 25.