It is nice to hear encouraging words coming out of UEFA headquarters on the visits made to the seven bidders hoping to secure EURO2008. Nice because the Scotland and Ireland bid have been named as being clear of the other contenders alongside the bid from Switzerland and Austria. The time for the bids to be considered by the full Executive Committee is drawing near and UEFA have agreed that there would be a sift of the bids to identify the top two bids. This would allow committee members from countries with bids that failed at this hurdle an opportunity to use their vote. The idea of the two favourites drawing ahead is based on leaks from the report to be made by the inspectors who visited facilities to be offered by the seven bidders. They were to consider the grounds obviously but they were also very interested in the accommodation, security and transport infrastructure which will be available in 2008.
The full UEFA report is to be submitted in around 10 days time. If the rumours are true, and two clear favourites are identified, the SFA and FAI bidding team should be pleased but not complacent. There is still much to do. The grounds, or rather the lack of confirmation on which will be used, over the water are still a concern. There seems still to be political support for the bid with Jack McConnell being quoted in the Scotland on Sunday as saying that the two countries have submitted and strong, imaginative bid. McConnell ended by saying: "We can offer a Festival of Football never experienced before in Europe." I still think he is right. There is more to the tournament than football of course. There is the great opportunity to show what the two countries can do for business. Scotland and Ireland have great images for many mostly based on Brigadoon and The Quiet Man. If the right people get involved in selling what else we can deliver in the 21st century, there will be more than one winner in 2008.