Now that the seven EURO2008 bids are in, the joint Scotland-Ireland option does not look too shabby. Last week all the delegations had the opportunity to make their presentations to UEFA in Switzerland. As the list was on an alphabetical basis, the SFA/FIA presentation was the last up. This allowed David Taylor, chief executive of the SFA, the uncomfortable experience of watching the competition while all the while worrying about his turn coming ever closer. Once he had seen the Nordic 2008 presentation handled as an embarrassing double act between their spokesman and a talking football called Nordie, he must have felt that whatever he did the Scotland-Ireland bid could never come last.
Balance of strengths over weaknesses
Now that the rest have seen the strength of the SFA/FAI bid it is their turn to be worried. Taylor played on the romanticism of the fervour of the home based fans and Ireland's efforts in the World Cup did us no harm whatsoever on that score. He also pointed to the size of the stadia, which will be used in 2008, that far and away beats all the other serious contenders. Someone on the board recently asked me to identify the pitfalls in the bid for Scotland. I suggested that there none and that we could only be beaten by a better offer. The opposition have things going for them and also against them.
The Austria/Switzerland bid is strong but they lack the large stadia required to satisfy UEFA's dreams of increased revenue
Nordic 2008 hope to have to 6 countries involved with 6 football associations and 6 governments to deal with. UEFA can do without that. The countries in the lead Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark all want two countries to qualify as of right but also want to be part of the qualification games as well. Too cumbersome to work.
Russia does not have government backing this week (they say yes/no week about but scenes like the ones we saw after they lost in the World Cup did them no favours in or out of the country),
Hungary a solo bid which UEFA prefer however the grounds are not in place and they will have difficulty in providing them. Have lived too long on the memory of their golden years,
Greece/Turkey what can I say? No chance of them agreeing among themselves let alone with UEFA, and finally
Croatia /Bosnia Herzegovina recovering from war and just will not be able to provide the grounds or the infrastructure. The decision will be made by UEFA's executive committee some of whom have vested interests such as President Lennart Johansson (Swedish), vice president Senes Erzik (Turkish), vice president Per Ravn Omdal (Norwegian), Dr Viacheslav Kolskov (Russian) and Giangiorio Spiess (Swiss). They should all abstain from the vote but there may be some favours that will be called in to cover for their lack of influence. If it is a free vote, the lobbying of the other members of the executive committee will start now and only end when the votes are cast on 13th December.