NOW PAY ATTENTION
As the New Year starts Scotland is on the threshold of a great adventure. EURO2008 is moving from a dream to more of a reality and we took the opportunity of the end of the old year reflective mood to talk to John Henderson, the project manager for the SFA on the bid. Recent speculation on the format of any bid has been published in the papers and Henderson wanted to clarify the position because as he said: "I hope the fans get behind the EURO 2008 Bid - their view needs to be heard as well". It is difficult to gauge views when the information available appears to be confusing. Hopefully this article will clarify a couple of points
Listen to what the man says (sns)
Just next month, the SFA will be putting the finishing touches to the package that will form the document to be passed to UEFA to consider if we can actually deliver EURO2008. The favoured option of the SFA is, and always has been, a solo effort. This strategy is a risky one but the rewards are that much greater. The commitment to meet all the costs and deal with all the preparation of the third largest sporting event will require the commitment of not just the SFA but also the Scottish Executive, the clubs involved in hosting the games, UK Sport and not forgetting - us, the fans who will want to see the best in Europe play on our home ground.
Recent speculation in the papers has sown some seeds of doubt regarding our ability to pull it off and several prominent personalities have also expressed concerns over the viability of a stand alone effort. The prospect of a joint bid with Ireland would reduce the commitment but would also reduce the benefits while increasing the complexity of working with UEFA. The Nordic2008 bid is complex with 4 countries involved and they are thinking of taking another couple on board. Would UEFA be willing to deal with 6 governments and 6 football associations? I think not. The simplicity of a solo bid means that UEFA deal with one government and one football association.
Fall back option, Rugby Park (sns)
This is not to say that the SFA is being blinkered and blindly sticking to the one plan. They are looking a all the options - except working with St James Park as the Scotland on Sunday appears to publish every week! We asked Henderson to let us have it straight - solo or joint bid and this is what he said: "The position is really quite straightforward despite the newspaper articles. The options for a bid remain 8 stadia in a Scotland only bid. If Aberdeen were not deliverable then there is the fall back of Falkirk, Kilmarnock or Hearts." He went on: "The other option for a bid is for Ireland to deliver 2 grounds, one of which would be likely to be the proposed Stadium Ireland. In a joint bid option there are 4 parties-the SFA, the Football Association of Ireland and the Governments of Scotland and Ireland".
We then pressed him on who would get what if a joint bid were to be submitted, as it appeared that the Irish FA were looking for certain matches notably the opening and closing games. Henderson said: "As for the speculation about what matches would be played in Ireland in a joint bid scenario this is something that would need to be negotiated and at this stage before a decision (over a joint bid) has been reached it is pure speculation. We have until the end of February to decide on the bid situation".
So there you have it from the horses mouth. Nothing has been counted in and nothing has been counted out. We will just have to sit tight and wait for the details to come out. But you know where to come to get the straight answers from the man who should know.