Still On Target For EURO2008
I bumped into EURO2008 project bid director John Henderson and caught up with the latest on the bid. He was about to prepare to sell the bid at a briefing down in London and he gave ScottishFitba a run down on what he planned to say. There was a lot to talk about since that last time we spoke; the GAA suggesting that they will not allow Croke Park to be used as part of the bid, crowd trouble involving Austrian and Switzerland fans followed by Roy Keane's criticism of the Irish football authorities over their organisation of the World Cup trip. That last one, of course, has led to the Football Association of Ireland commissioning an independent review into their World Cup adventure. The EURO2008 project team think that all three events should be ignored as far as their bid is concerned. Henderson said: "They are irrelevant to our bid. We believe what is relevant is whether we have met the guidelines laid down and whether we can also deliver something extra by bringing a sense of excitement and a festival atmosphere. We want to build on what Manchester achieved in hosting the Commonwealth Games and make sure it is a real party."
Henderson is confident that bid will impress members of UEFA's official inspection team when they arrive next month to visit the prospective facilities. The other favourites in the race for the bid (to be decided in December) are the joint campaign from Austria and Switzerland and the Nordic submission from four Scandinavian countries. But Henderson said: "We are focusing on our own strengths, not on our rivals. We believe that our bid is strong, with great infrastructure and great stadia. Now we need to demonstrate and prove that what we said in our bid document can be delivered."
The bid document listed 10 grounds from which 8 will be used for the finals. The large stadia would enable 1.7 million tickets to be available for the finals. This is 500,000 higher than any other bid. Henderson continued: "Who knows where television income will be in 2008, but the one constant will be ticket income. There is a strong football culture in both countries and the fans are so passionate about the game. The Tartan Army are great fans who love the game and fair play, while the Irish supporters at the World Cup were also a tremendous boost to us." Good to see that the project team are still confident in their own abilities. SCOTLAND EURO2008? WHY THE HELL NOT!
Ger Harley (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Shane Knox (email@example.com)
Al McIntosh (Al@scottishfitba.net)
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