There is still hope that the Irish government will be able to provide Stadium Ireland as part of EURO2008. John O'Donoghue, the Irish Sports Minister, has promised the Football Association of Ireland a decision will be made early this month. Another interested party waiting to here any decision will be the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU). Their Lansdowne Road is needing renovation and could be the fall back stadium if Stadium Ireland does not materialise. The IRFU will need government help to upgrade their tired ground. If the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) stick to their 'no foreign sports' ruling and keep Croke Park out of the equation, the Irish government could be between a rock and a hard place over supplying the promised two grounds for EURO2008. The Irish government would have to be willing to help the IRFU financially and support the building of Stadium Ireland. Not an inconsiderable undertaking.
There are currently 23 official approaches from private companies which want to build Bertie's Bowl. The minority party in the coalition government over the water, the Progressive Democrats, have never been fans of the idea. However, they have agreed to participate in talks with Bertie Ahern's Fianna Fail party about the building of the 80,000 seater dream stadium. This should not be seen as the answer to the EURO2008's dream. The Progressive Democrats are wanting to talk about the stadium being built by anyone. They know that it is unlikely that any company would take on such a project without some degree of government subsidy.
There have been rumours that the GAA may be willing to consider making a decision about letting Croke Park be used before the UEFA deadline of 11th December. However, if the GAA remain unwilling to say yes, the Irish Government will have to consider if they want to be involved in two building projects, upgrading Lansdowne Road and building Stadium Ireland. These options will be outlined to the cabinet by O'Donoghue tomorrow (Tuesday). I do not think that the government would want to be dragged into two capital projects with an unknown price tag attached to them both. This could be the crux of the matter when the real talking takes place when the two partners in the coalition meet. Lots of black coffee required for that meeting I think.
Lansdowne Road needs some TLC