EURO2008 OR BUST
After a long period out of the spotlight, the Euro 2008 bid has came back under the media's eye. The tartan army marching on Edinburgh to highlight the cause gained a few column inches but the more important features are centering on the cost of the project. With Jack McConnell staying noticeably quiet over Executive support for the bid, major decisions will need to be made soon.
The biggest challenge for the SFA will be to win over Jack McConnell and the Scottish Executive. This bid will cost a fortune but with the Scottish economy standing to benefit to the tune of millions, it's not unreasonable to expect some support from Hollyrood. The Portuguese won the competition to host EURO2004 and a report in the Scotland on Sunday suggests that all is not as well as it should be. UEFA had to issue an official ‘hurry up' warning last year and the estimated cost of their bid has already gone to £300m from £200m. Right now, that is well above the supposed cost of a Scottish bid – but given the cost of our parliament building, I wouldn't believe the costings until the final brick is in place in the final stadium. UEFA will not award the tournament to anyone they think will let them down. This is a massive undertaking for a country like ours to take on and without government backing, it is doubtful that they would take a risk in giving us the competition. Lessons must be learned from Portugal – bidding with nine cities and ten stadiums is fantastic in theory but hard in practice. On a similar scale, we have to make sure we don't get over ambitious.
Imagine if Lansdowne Road was full for EURO2008 (allsport)
That's where Ireland may come in. They are still lingering around the possibility of a joint bid and it's unlikely they would turn down the chance to be involved. If EURO2008 is the biggest event Scotland can attract, then sharing it is surely the height of Ireland's capabilities. Lansdowne Road would be offered and with Stadium Ireland not being built yet, the Gaelic Football ground, Craik Park would also be put forward. If I recall correctly, the Gaelic Football Association aren't overly keen on having non ‘Irish' events on their patch. It would take a lot of negotiating to gain access to the massive venue.
The new Dundee stadium may not be favoured by Jim McLean, but the his board will only be at Tannadice until he can sell his shares. That won't be long, will it? Aberdeen are facing red tape over the building of their new ground and while any legislation will no doubt be fast tracked through the administrative machine, it's not exactly encouraging. The redevelopment of Easter Road is obviously the smallest part of the plan and to be honest, if ‘we' (the bidders) make a muck up of building one stand, we probably don't deserve the tournament at all.
So, Ireland might be needed to make the bid possible at all, not just to add credibility. That means there may be less money available from UK Sport to support our bid – but given the size of the sums involved, this will hardly matter. The deadline for confirming the intention to bid is soon – let's hope the powers that be come to the right decision.