The SFA/FAI and their officials leading the EURO2008 bid must be getting nervous. The advisors from UEFA are due to arrive any day now to start their tour of inspection of the sites mentioned in the bidding document submitted oh so long ago. UEFA have just moved on from their trip to Austria and Switzerland which followed their tour of the Nordic 2008 sites. The dates 16-20 September may be the most important ones that the SFA have ever to look forward to. These few days could influence just how Scotland top football authority proceed to influence the development of the game in this country.
The Government will be hoping that the rumour that the Scotland/Ireland bid already has the support of half the Executive committee (which will make the final decision) is accurate. They recommended the way forward was a joint bid and they have only offered financial support on that basis. There would be embarrassed fixed grins if the bid fell at the final hurdle because of their, shall we be kind and say, less than enthusiastic support.
The grounds we hope will be used have yet to be finalised. Kingswells in Aberdeen is making good progress but still has to get Ministerial support. However, as I suggested above, it would not be politic for Ministers to say no now. The Dundee venture has been pretty quiet recently. I am not sure whether this is good or bad news. The GAA over in Ireland are a big stumbling block to use Croke Park but the SFA officials I have been in touch with are fairly relaxed that the Irish will deliver two grounds.
However, the Austrian-Switzerland bid team could show the UEFA advisors actual venues. They have finalised the grounds they will use. Their project manager, Thomas Helbling, was quoted as saying: "They (the advisors) could smell the paint and hear the hammers. We don't fear anyone". Helbling know that UEFA will know all about their recent problems with violence but as he said none of the bidders have a clean slate as far as that is concerned.
The race is still on. The favourites keep changing depending on which expert you listen to. Lets hope that the tour of inspection between 16-20 September allows Scotland and Ireland to show what they can do. EURO2008 - WHY THE HELL NOT!