Try, Try, Try Again

Last updated : 26 November 2002 By Ed_ScottishFitba

Bertie Ahern, the Irish Prime Minister, is not going to give up hope of persuading the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) to let the joint EURO2008 bid use Croke Park. The GAA recently turned down a written request from the Taoiseach. However, Ahern is committed to the bid and says that Ireland will deliver on their promise to deliver two grounds for the tournament if the bid is successful. Ahern said: "I have no doubt that in its time Croke Park will come right. Croke Park is almost finished and does not have any equals as far as we're concerned. We also have 23 bids in from the private sector for a site out in the west of Dublin. Scotland and Ireland are two great footballing countries with enormous interest and support in the game which is shown week-in, week-out. People who would come to support their team from outside of Scotland and Ireland would have a good time".

While Ahern is hoping to no doubt earn some kind of political kudus from supporting the bid, others are as confident but for other reasons. SFA Bid director John Henderson has always been confident that Scotland and Ireland can deliver the goods. Up till now, the joint bid team have take a softly softly approach to banging their drum without commenting on their rivals. This appears to have changed as we head into the decision month of December. When asked about the Irish difficulties Henderson said: "I have every confidence we will deliver and UEFA know we will deliver too - and that is a very strong position to be in. Switzerland has very small stadiums and you could fit two Swiss stadiums into Murrayfield." Neat piece of spin there.

However, UEFA are unlikely to be ignorant of the difficulties being experienced by all the bidders. Russia's bid could well have been fatally affected by the recent theatre siege. The crowd trouble at the UEFA Cup tie between Greek club Panathinaikos and Turkish rivals Fenerbahcherecent will not have helped that joint bid. When asked his general opinion on the bids, UEFA president Lennart Johansson (who will not have a vote in the first round of the decision process) said : "There was this terrible hostage drama in Moscow. That will also be taken into consideration for the final decision, as well as what has happened in Ireland. We have to bear all that in mind". He also denied that the Austrian-Swiss bid was, along with the Nordic 2008 bid, the favourite. Johansson said: "If you say that, you know more than I do"

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