EURO2008 Fall Back Position
|The bid for EURO2008 has been submitted and the good news on the Irish end of the bid must allow the SFA’s project team to sleep a little easier these days. We have taken the Scotland contribution to the eight stadia requirement for granted since nearly day one. The basic big four have been known from the beginning with Hampden, Murrayfield, Parkhead and Ibrox allowing is to perhaps be a bit too relaxed. We have crowed about the size of the venues built and working every week. No worries – they can cope with everything. The recent Champion League final at Hampden allowed the SFA to show UEFA and the rest of the world that they can put on a showpiece event that was not toe curlingly embarrassing and festooned in tartan.|
With four grounds in place, Scotland only need to provide another two. Only! The grounds in mind are not at the moment anything more robust that a set of blueprints on an architects drawing board. The SFA are supporting the development of new grounds for Aberdeen and a shared ground for Dundee and Dundee United. The prospect of new grounds being built in these two cities was met by opposition from those most affected by their locations. The Dundee ground has at least managed to get outline planning permission from the Council. The Aberdeen location has a pressure group who are fighting all the way to delay/stop/move the building of a new Pittodrie. With only 6 years to go (only 5 by the time UEFA make their announcement on where will get EURO2008) there is not much time to get the grounds and associated infrastructure built.
The SFA had thought of this and asked Hibs to continue the development of Easter Road to provide a safety net if either of the new build projects went belly up. It is a lot easier to redevelop that build anew. You would think that but I understand that Hibs are considering pulling back from being involved in the project even as a stopgap. The costs of the required work on the Edinburgh ground would come in at around £7m and as the club have already invested significant sums in their ground, they could be looking for some help from the Scottish Executive to finish the job. As we all know, the First Minister is not willing to sign a blank cheque for the championships so Hibs are likely to be disappointed when the answer comes in the negative. The club do have land behind the current ground which they had planned to utilise for the EURO2008 version of the ground. What’s the betting that a ‘for sale’ sign appears on the land shortly after the official no letter hits the Easter Road door mat? The money secured from the sale will allow Hibs to develop the ground but not to the standard required for EURO2008.
Not in the frame for much longer?
If Hibs do pull out, the SFA could then turn to the other clubs who asked to join the EURO2008 gang last year, Hearts, Falkirk and Kilmarnock, to provide the safety net. The fact that Kilmarnock have recently opened their own hotel/conference facility at Rugby Park suggest that Killie would be at the head of the list.
Rugby Park to the rescue?
Ger Harley (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Shane Knox (email@example.com)
Al McIntosh (Al@scottishfitba.net)
Scottish-Fitba.Net incorporates ScotlandEuro2008.net