Not an empty gesture from UEFA inspection team members Stephanie Theinz and Mike Lee
The news that the joint bid for EURO2008 is dead has been greatly exaggerated. The Football Association of Ireland has responded to an article in the Irish Independent that claimed that UEFA conditions relating to the bid had not been met. This information was made available to them under Ireland's Freedom of Information Act. The paper reported that the FAI had been told in August that guarantees of two suitable stadia would have to be made by mid-September. Obviously, those commitments could not be given at the time due to the Stadium Ireland and Croke Park situation. The report also suggested that UEFA’s tour of inspection last month was an "empty gesture" as the bid was already dead.
The paper’s view on the situation ahas been challenged by FAI treasurer, John Delaney, who says that the bid is "very much alive". Delay said: "We discussed the bid with the government as recently as yesterday. They will tell us by the end of November whether Ireland is going to be able to come up with the two necessary stadia that the bid requires. We have closer relations to UEFA than anybody in this country and the fact is that UEFA is happy with things as they stand at the moment. As far as UEFA is concerned, the key date is 11 December when bids have to be formally presented." Delaney then carried on to point to the precedent set by Portugal as they bid for EURO2004. They won the race after their government gave a guarantee that the grounds would be in place. Delaney said: "Several of the Portuguese stadia weren't built when their bid for 2004 was accepted. The government guarantee was the key thing. In our case, the Irish government has given the private sector until 18 October to submit proposals for investing in the National Stadium. A number of companies have already expressed strong interest so obviously things will become a bit clearer next week." Should be an interesting week while we wait for the news on the interested parties.