The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) were disappointed to say the least when they heard that the Irish Government would not be contributing cash to build Stadium Ireland. They were planning on using the new stadium as part of the joint bid to act as host for EURO2008. The FAI will be asking to have an urgent meeting with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern to discuss the situation. FAI treasurer John Delaney said he was disappointed to hear comments attributed to the Minister for Finance, Charlie McCreevy, suggesting that funding for all sports bodies linked to the new stadium project was to be subject to a fresh review. Delaney said plans had been formulated based on the government and any withdrawal would be disastrous. Delaney said: "As far as we are concerned, there were commitments given to us, both in writing and verbally, and we will be expecting those commitments to be honoured."
With the countries cash crisis in mind, the Irish government plans to hold urgent talks with the major sporting organisations in the country.
A spokesman for the Taoiseach (Ahern) said that the Government would be meeting all the major sporting organisations over the next couple of weeks. Thankfully, one of the organisations will be the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), owners of Croke Park which can hold 80,000. Unfortunately, the constitution of the GAA only allows Croke Park to host Gaelic Games such as Gaelic Football while other sports are banned. The Irish government plan to ask the GAA, for special permission to use the Croke Park on a "one-off" basis for the tournament. Even that limited use would require a change of GAA rules. This can only be decided by a vote at the association's congress. At the congress, delegates remained firmly in favour of maintaining the ban on "foreign" sports. Funnily enough, the one before that, the vote to allow "foreign" sports was defeated by a single vote. The GAA are willing to let the UEFA delegation to inspect Croke Park. No doubt they will take the opportunity to point out the stringent rules currently banning that "foreign" sport soccer from the ground.
Croke Park - what will be the capacity when it is filled in at the end?
The other venue planned to be used for EURO2008 is Lansdowne Road owned by the Irish Rugby Football Union. They are also disappointed about the change of funding plans for Stadium Ireland. They were hoping to use the new stadium as its headquarters. The union was "frustrated that yet another opportunity to build a national stadium has been lost". And so say all (OK - some) of us.