It looks like Scotland and Ireland have just about sneaked into the lead as favourites to win the race for EURO2008. The much maligned and argued over capacity of the grounds the bid will deliver looks to be a significant factor. The Scotland-Ireland bid will be able to seat 410,000 and generate a maximum ticket sale of 1.7 m. This is 500,000 more than the Austria-Switzerland bid. The maths of ticket price times extra seats would bring in an additional £12.5m. And that is before the merchandising profits are calculated from these extra fans. This appears to have persuaded representatives from France, Luxembourg, England and Holland that EURO2008 should be awarded to the SFA-FAI bid. With UEFA's executive committee votes only being made up of eight members (as the remainder are involved in bids and are barred from voting), we need just one more vote to gain the simple majority that the rules require.
Of course, life is not as simple as that. The process allows representatives of bids that lose out in the first stage to have a say in the final decision. So we could still have to get more than one vote going our way. However, money can make a powerful argument. Glen Kirton, a management consultant who helped England win the right to host EURO96, said: "UEFA want to see big crowds filling the stadiums and they are confident that the Scottish and Irish venues can manage to do this. They have previously voiced doubts on whether this will happen in Switzerland and Austria." The Austria-Switzerland bid has still some work to do to have all the grounds in place. Only the stadiums in Vienna and Basle are ready. Three more are being built, two being extended and one is still going through the planning process. They also point out that available seats does not mean filled seats. The recent experience of the World Cup shows that not all tickets get sold. Wolfgang Gramann, project director of the Austrian side of the bid said: "Austria and Switzerland are both countries from smaller football markets, but we are not right at the bottom and the only way to increase our market would be to host an event like EURO2008." This is a powerful argument as UEFA want the word to spread. It could come down to a decision between missionary zeal and greed.