We'll Support You Evermore?

Last updated : 08 January 2003 By Ed_ScottishFitba
It was not to be
Perhaps, in hindsight, the dream of EURO2008 was one that was always doomed to failure, seeing the opposition. However, that does not mean that the Scottish Executive were not willing to put their money where their mouth was. First Minister Jack McConnell took on the responsibility to carry forward the EURO2008 idea that was supported by his predecessor, Henry McLeish. McConnell did have his own ideas on how, and indeed with whom, Scotland could do it. Since he became involved, McConnell has been accused of paying lip service to the EURO2008 concept and relying on Ireland to blame if the bid failed. However, with the announcement of the 2002 Scottish Budget, it is clear that he and his Ministers were willing to invest significantly to make the event a success. The Scottish Budget allocates funds over a three year period with the 2002 Budget looking forward to 2003-04/2004-05/2005-06. The Executive had identified £16 million over the next three years following a successful EURO2008 Bid. This would have worked out as £1m/£1m/£14m for years 2003-4 to 2005-6.

This level of investment would no doubt have been built on in subsequent Budgets as the key dates for completion were reached. However, since the money has been identified for something that will not happen, what do the Executive plan to do now? We asked the those that should know - the civil servants that make Ministers policies work. A spokesman provided the following which reflects wh
at Ministers have said in relation to the allocated money so far: "We are committed to providing a real legacy to the EURO2008 bid. Action on improving the opportunities for taking part in youth sport, including football, will be our main priority. The independent review of youth football currently under way, part funded by the Executive, will report in February. We are keen to see the outcome of that review before taking firm decisions on funding, but a substantial part of the money put aside for EURO2008 will support youth sport." Just how much constitutes a substantial part is open to debate and will be watched carefully by the SFA and everybody else who has an interest in the future of Scottish football.

We also asked about potential government support if the SFA were to bid again for EURO2012. We were pointed to the recently published Major Events Strategy and the fact that a body called EventScotland, has set up. This body has been funded to tune of £10m over the three years to 2005-06, to work with variety of Scottish organisations to develop a portfolio of events we should be bidding for, in sport, culture and conferences. Any proposals for a future EURO Bid would involve this new body. The experience of the EURO2008 process will form part of the discussions between the Executive, the SFA and sportscotland to outline the way forward generally in the wake of the 2008 bid (youth sport, facilities etc). As the SFA have yet to consider their plans for 2012, Ministers don't have a position on what the Executive would do. However, Ministers have said that if the SFA wanted to move forward with a bid, then they would certainly be happy to discuss the proposals.

This leaves the door open. No promises but that would be expected in an election year! However,I think the principle argument has been won . The government is willing to support a well argued case. We just have to get the arguments in place. In three year's time the bidding for EURO2012 will begin in earnest. Let's get the government on board as early as possible.

EURO2012? Why The Hell Not? You heard it here first!

Editorial Team

Ger Harley (ger@scottishfitba.net)
Vanderhogg (vanderhogg@scottishfitba.net)

Special correspondents
Al McIntosh (Al@scottishfitba.net)