UEFA Delegation Like What They Hear So Far
Day one of the UEFA EURO2008 delegation’s tour of inspection has passed and things are still on track. The positive noises made from the delegates were encouraging for those involved, especially those involved with the Irish end of the bid. UEFA’s director of communications Mike Lee said last night (Monday): "Our initial conclusion is that this bid is very much alive and kicking, it is still in the race and competing strongly with the other bids". The delegation spent the day in Ireland considering the three options of Stadium Ireland, Croke Park and Lansdowne Road. They know and heard all about the funding problems associated with the proposed site of Stadium Ireland. They moved on inspect the 80,000-seater Croke Park stadium, home of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). They were well briefed on their rules regarding "foreign sports" at its grounds. They were not impressed with the antiquated Lansdowne Road. They considered the 35,000-seat to be too small and spartan for EURO 2008 needs in its present form.
The Irish government (Prime Minister Bertie Ahern and his sports minister, John O'Donoghue) met with the delegation later in the day. After their discussions O'Donoghue said: "UEFA want a guarantee from us that we will provide two stadia for the European championships in 2008, no more and no less than that. If we cannot, we will be honest about it". Bid director from the Scottish side of things, John Henderson, was also involved in the tour. Afterwards he was in confident mood and said: "The UEFA team asked some searching questions but our bid is extremely robust and fulfils all the criteria that UEFA have laid out. Obviously, the issue of stadia was raised and the delegates were reassured that we can deliver what we have promised - great stadia and a great tournament." Despite the question marks over the Irish stadiums, UEFA’s Lee said the delegates were impressed by what they saw. Lee said: "We have been very impressed with the political commitment we have seen, not only from the Taoiseach (prime minister) and the national government but also from the Dublin city authorities."
Stadium Ireland map
The tour moved onto Scotland today and will start off in Dundee, where the two SPL clubs have asked the SPL for permission to share a yet un-built ground. The delegation will move onto Murrayfield which be laid out as a football park for the first time. The end of the tour will allow a look at the stadiums in Glasgow.
Ger Harley (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Shane Knox (email@example.com)
Al McIntosh (Al@scottishfitba.net)
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