There has been a few quite days to ponder and consider just what the First Minister has said on the subject of support for EURO2008. I have come to the conclusion that although there may be troubles ahead, while there is moonlight, music, love .... Oh sorry about that. While there may be troubles ahead, it is still something worth getting behind as it is the only deal on the table.
A lot of commentators have suggested that a joint bid devalues the strength of any bid from Scotland when compared to the others. They say this bid is ahead or that one has the best grounds. As you know I am not keen on links to other sites but on this occasion it may just be worth it. There's been a lot of media coverage saying Scotland are already some way behind other bidders (Austria-Switzerland / Nordic2008), and that they have their stadiums. That is just not the case. Only one suitable stadium currently exists for the Nordic bid (between 4 countries!), and 2 for the Austria-Switzerland bid. As everybody knows, Scotland already have four high-class large-capacity grounds in place. If you do not believe me, check out the websites at:
In addition, Portugal are still to build FIVE of the stadiums for Euro 2004, see if I'm wrong via their website
There has also been some news in the papers about the likelihood of Stadium Ireland (also known as Bertie's Bowl) ever seeing the light of day. While the upcoming election and the proposals for the 'Bertie Bowl' are certainly big issues in Ireland, there's a lot of misleading media comment that the stadium to be built in Dublin will cost anything from 800,000 to 1 million euros. That is not the case. The figures refer to the entire sporting campus planned with Stadium Ireland as the centerpiece. The complex would have facilities for virtually every sport under the sun (velodrome, swimming centre, golf ranges, indoor/outdoor tennis etc etc). The Irish Government, in terms of the stadium, have said they believe it is desirable, viable and will be developed in the next three to four years - well within the EURO2008 timescale.
So the offer may not be so bad as we first thought. It will not run smoothly, there will be hiccups and things to be decided and argued about. But we are still in the race. This is not the time to drop our interest.
The Scottish and Irish Ministers with responsibility for Sport in their portfolios met on 5th February to discuss just what they could do for their respective football associations. You may be interested in the Press Notice issued after their meeting. Click here and see what they discussed.
You may remember you posted questions for the First Minister and some of you had follow up questions after you saw his first answers. I put these to the Scottish Executive as asked to see what they would come up with.
Here are their answers.
ScottishFitba: The Irish themselves have said 2008 is too early and they are just using it for experience !!!!.
Scottish Executive: The Irish authorities - Government and FA - have said that they will never be able to bid for such a tournament on their own, that working with Scotland gives an ideal opportunity to build upon the undoubted strengths of both countries (friendly and knowledgeable fans, desirable destinations etc), that they can deliver two stadiums to meet UEFA's requirements (30,000 seaters for pool stage, 40,000 for quarter or semis) well in advance of 2008 and that, due to FIFA's decision to rotate World Cup around the continents, this represents probably the last realistic chance to put forward a bid which won't compete with the 'bigger' European football nations.
SF: If the Irish can't come up with their side and back out, would the money still be there to support the SFA if they got backing from other sources (i.e. City investors, Private investors etc) to cover any shortfall between the Exec funding ?
SE: Our decision not to support a solo bid was not just based on cost. We are committed to supporting the joint bid proposals and if these can not be taken forward - and we have no reason to believe they will not - there will be no scope for other options.
SF: And surely Westminster could provide backing, after all they were willing to throw umpteen millions for England's 2006 bid weren't they?
SE: England has a large number of stadiums, spread across the entire country, which meet the various UEFA and FIFA guidelines. The EURO2008 bid will be a matter for the authorities in Scotland and Ireland, and our proposals are not dependent on any financial support from Whitehall.