KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: UEFA has renewed its promise to stage the Euro finals in June and July in the nominated 12 venues spread far and wide across Covid-battered Europe.

However a final decision on whether to stick with all 12 or trim the number of countries and cities has been pushed back from March to April.

The challenge of staging the tournament in the context of a pandemic which has drawn contrasting responses from different nations has not intimidated the European football federation or Alexandr Ceferin, its president.

He emerged from a meeting with representatives of all 12 hosts to say:  “UEFA is committed to holding Euro 2020 in the 12 cities originally planned. The EURO is the flagship competition for national team football in Europe and is a vital source of funding for grassroots and wider football development.

“I am optimistic that things are highly likely to be very different with regard to the virus as we move closer to the tournament and it is important that we give the host cities and governments as much time as we can to formulate an accurate picture of what will be possible come June and July.

“Fans are such a big part of what makes football special and that is true of the Euro as much as it is of any game.  We must allow ourselves the maximum space to allow their return to the stadiums.”

A UEFA statement added: “All parties recognise the need for flexibility around decisions to be made on the arrangements for the tournament, in order to reflect the different challenges and circumstances that cities find themselves in.

“As a result of that and the fast-changing nature of the situation around the pandemic, the deadline for the submission of plans to accommodate fans inside the stadiums has been moved to early April.”