EURO2008 Report Card Time
Strange for an ex-teacher and ex-minister of Education, Jack McConnell did not do enough homework to make sure Scotland stood a chance with their EURO2008 bid. It was at his insistence that a joint bid with Ireland was the only option that the Scottish executive would support. A new report heavily criticises the SFA and the Irish Government for not really having the skills to build a bid that stood a chance of success when the chips were down. European football consultant, Alex Flynn, said Scotland and Ireland did not do their homework. Flynn said: "There were many qualities that they possessed but quite frankly, when it comes down to it, it is football politics that counts, and they were found sadly lacking in this area." The Irish government of Prime Minister Berti Ahern, comes in for the biggest mauling in the report for only make public commitments of support at the eleventh hour. The lack of conviction regarding availablity of Irish stadia did not help convince UEFA and the report suggests this was a "critical shortcoming".
Blind to the hard work required
Not all the blame can be laid at the Irish's door. The SFA were convinced that they had friends in high places in UEFA who supported the bid. These friends appear to disappear like snow on a sunny day when the real decisions were being made. The combination of these crucial elements allowed the joint bid to be out manoeuvered by the Swiss and Austrian bid when it came to the vote. However, SFA chief David Taylor is still convinced that the voting system was to blame for the failure. He said: "The decision to award the championships is a very political one because there are millions of pounds at stake for the economies concerned, and huge prestige. You have to have a very clear political strategy, it cannot be a simplistic one. We had some clever midfield play but we couldn't quite get in a position where we were one on one with the goalkeeper."
This epic saga has not dimmed the ambitions of the new Sports Minister, Frank McAveety. He is optimistic about Scotland having another chance in bidding for the 2012 championships. He said: "Obviously we need to wait beyond 2004 to see what the criteria for UEFA will be after the '04 championships. Then we can consider whether or not Scotland has learned its lessons from this recent bid and perhaps we can bid for 2012." Forgive him, he's new.
Ger Harley (firstname.lastname@example.org)