MAKE MINE A DOUBLE (ACT)
So the idea of a solo bid for EURO2008 has been knocked on the head by First Minister Jack McConnell. It was not his decision alone of course. The collective responsibility of the Scottish Executive's Cabinet are the ones who have decided that backing a "go-it-alone" bid to bring the football festival to Scotland is something they could not support. They are more in favour of linking up with Ireland in an attempt to win the prize on offer from UEFA. The Cabinet made the decision at their normal weekly meeting today (Wednesday 23rd January) before the first Minister met with SFA officials who had travelled from Hampden to hear the decision.
The figures were poured over by a Finance sub committee, headed by Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace, late into the evening on Tuesday night. They could not agree with the SFA's consultants, DTZ Pieda, that the benefits, estimated at £500m, would materialise in return for their investment of £100m. Ministers are said to have felt the former figure was "not robust enough" and were wary of investing public money in the ambitious project when the benefits of the investment would go to private organisations and not to the government. They would of course gain from the tax revenue generated by the spending but, First Minister Jack McConnell is concerned that there were better ways of getting value for money than spending government money on rebuilding football stadia.
In a Ministerial statement in the Scottish Parliament today McConnell said: "A joint bid gives us important opportunities". He said he believed that the two countries working together could host the best championships yet. David Taylor, SFA Chief Executive, plans to give the SFA's reaction to the First Minister's statement on EURO2008 later tonight. The SFA have always been keen on a solo bid but have kept in contact with their Football Association of Ireland counterparts just in case. They even advised UEFA that they would be interested in submitted either a solo or joint bid. A joint bid will be more complicated as two governments and two FAs will have to be consulted at every stage.
Just to round this off, it was interesting watching the BBC Scotland's football correspondent Chick Young this afternoon as he went different shades of purple as he tried to comprehend the decision to go down the joint venture route. Young could not see the sense of a joint bid with Ireland as they did not have stadia which would meet the criteria set out by UEFA. He suggested that. Lansdowne Road stadium in Dublin was a 'toilet' and would need to be completely rebuilt if it were to form part of a bid