The EURO2008 challenge has brought forth rivals bids from all over Europe. Many in this country have said that a solo bid is the way to go and the joint bid with Ireland (the only option supported by the Scottish executive) has yet to find general favour over here. Many say that we are too small and parochial and will not be able to get the grounds in place (anticipating problems with Aberdeen and Dundee) in time. We have to deliver 8 grounds with a minimum capacity of 30,000 according to the current guidance document from UEFA (which runs to 200 pages). As we wrote recently, this minimum could be increased as UEFA watch the TV deals around the world crumble.
As part of the never ending search to find out how the competition is getting on. It would appear that the joint Greek-Turkish bid has some way to go to even catch us up. I have been having difficulty in getting information out of the respective football associations but I do know that the four Turkish cities which would act as host for EURO2008 are Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Antalya. I have slightly more info on the Greek side of things. The picture at the top of the page is of the Olympic Stadium (known as OAKA) in Athens which has a capacity of 74,767 (all-seater), OAKA is only rated as a 4-star stadium by UEFA but has hosted several major sporting events (in football: European Cup finals in 1983 and 1994, Cup Winners' Cup final in 1987).
One of the four groups would take place in Heraklion, the largest city of the island of Crete . Heraklion has a stadium (OFI Stadium), but the games will be played in the new Pancretan Stadium. Pancretan Stadium has been getting built for over 12 years. Since then it has stopped, restarted and stopped again several times! Said to have a capacity of 33,000 when (if?) finished, it has been named as one of the venues of the 2004 Olympic football tournament.
Kaftanzoglio Stadium is situated in the northern city of Thessalonikiand has a capacity of 28,028 (all-seater) but a record attendance of 45,634 (Iraklis FC vs Panathinaikos FC - 1971). You figure that one out. The stadium was built in the late 50's with money donated by the Kaftanzoglou Foundation, hence its name. The Greek National Team has used it as home for a number of international matches and Kaftanzoglio has also hosted a European Cup winners' Cup final in 1973, when AC Milan beat Leeds United (1-0).
Another one on the drawing board. The capacity of the Panthessalian Stadium will be 21,000. Some of the main features will be; an 8-lane athletics track around the pitch; a metal & membrane roof over the west stand; a swimming pool under the stadium's stands and a training ground next to the main stadium
Patras is situated in western Greece, 220 km from Athens, and has a capacity of 18,000 (seated). Patras does not have an airport, but you can use the train to get there. That will go down well with UEFA officials. The city is, apparently, a very important port, with many ships to and from Italy on a daily basis. I hope this kind of info forms part of the bidding document as it is sure to impress. Not.