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Euro 2008: Euro bid has grounds for optimism

Alan Campbell says Scotland and Ireland stand a good chance of winning the race to host Uefa's Euro 2008

IF the 2008 European Championships were awarded on the basis of stadiums
alone, Scotland and Ireland would already be preparing to host the second
greatest football show on earth.

When the rival bids for Euro 2008 were lodged at Uefa's headquarters in Nyon
on Friday, the Celtic nations' bid was massively ahead of the field in terms
of existing and planned grounds. Whereas the main opposition -- the
Austria/Switzerland and Nordic bids -- have only one stadium with capacity
of 50,000 and over, the Scottish/Irish bid already has four and could end up
with six if Croke Park is released to add to Stadium Ireland in Dublin.

But, of course, it isn't that simple. While Uefa's executive committee, who
will decide which bid is successful in December, cannot fail to be impressed
by the fact that the Scottish/Irish bid has the potential and capacity to
sell 500,000 more tickets than any rival, this is a game which will be
determined by politics as much as any other factor. Although 500,000 tickets
is potentially a lot of extra revenue for the tournament, the stench of
favours being called in will be evident between now and the end of the year.

Should there be any complacency in the ranks of Scotland and Ireland, the
dismal memory of last year's Ryder Cup bid will dispel any euphoria. Then,
the mantra was that Scotland had the best golf courses. Undoubtedly true,
but it was the Welsh bid that won.

As some of those involved in that campaign are also working on Euro 2008,
one can only assume the lesson has been absorbed. And when the detailed bid
document was lodged with Uefa on Friday, the Scots and Irish -- now
officially led by the substantial figure of Sir Alex Ferguson -- could be
forgiven for suggesting they were a goal up even this early in the game.

John Henderson, a career civil servant who is project director of the
Scotland and Ireland bid, is the last person to jump out of his chair in
premature celebration, but talking in his Hampden war bunker on Thursday it
was evident that even he feels the bid has stolen a march on its rivals. Not
only that but he revealed to the Sunday Herald that neither the Nordic bid
nor the Austrian/Swiss one appear to meet crucial Uefa guidelines.

'The Nordic bid has a problem because they are proposing to have the opening
match in Copenhagen's Parken Stadium,' Henderson said. 'That only has a
42,000 capacity whereas the Uefa guidelines ask for 50,000 minimum.

'We take the view when guidelines have been set they have got to be met.
Similarly, when it comes to the quarter-finals the guidelines say at least
40,000 capacity is required -- the Nordic bid is proposing a quarter final
in Norway but there are no plans for a stadium of that size in the country.

'As far as I understand it, the Austrian/Swiss bid is planning the opening
match at Berne Stadium -- which, at 40,000 when it is constructed, again
doesn't comply with the Uefa guidelines.' Henderson said, 'They would also
only be able to use two of their eight grounds for the quarter-finals under
the 40,000 guideline.'

Despite these obstacles, Henderson is not sanguine. 'We shouldn't
underestimate the Nordic countries,' he said. 'They did host Euro 92, the
World Cup in Sweden, and the Olympics in Finland. Their infrastructure is
good. But no group of four countries has attempted to host a European
Championship or World Cup before. There have to be question marks on
logistics. The distances between Finland and other countries is quite

'I also haven't been able to ascertain from their bid document how they
propose to deal with qualification for the tournament.' As Henderson pointed
out, Uefa are highly unlikely to offer all four countries involved in the
bid a place in the finals.

'In my view,' he continued, 'the Austrian/Swiss bid is the strongest rival
to ours. Like Euro 2000 it is a bid split equally between two countries.'
There is, though (as our panel shows), considerable work to be done to
provide the necessary eight stadiums with capacities of 30,000 or more. At
present only two stadiums meet Uefa requirements -- the Erns Happel in
Vienna, which has been used for European finals, and a 30,000-seater in

'There are no large grounds outside Vienna,' said Henderson. 'To meet the
guidelines for 40,000-seater capacities for the quarter-finals they would
have to concentrate all four matches at the new ground in Berne and Vienna.'

Henderson also believes that the position of Austria and Switzerland in
central Europe may prove a drawback rather than the perceived advantage the
two countries are claiming.

'Although they are arguing these countries are geographically at the centre
of Europe, so is Germany and it is hosting the World Cup in 2006,' he said.
'It can be argued that both tournaments shouldn't be concentrated in the
centre of Europe over a two-year period.'

There are, of course, four other bids, but for political and practical
reasons, the Euro 2008 race appears to be between these three main players.

'It is widely perceived that the other bids less strong,' said Henderson.
'Turkey and Greece don't have depth of stadia. That is also the situation in
Bosnia and Croatia, and there must be doubts whether these countries will
have recovered sufficiently between now and 2008.'

Similarly, the single-country bids from Hungary and Russia look to be
fragile. Against that, the new-found political enthusiasm for the tournament
in Scotland, coupled with the re-election of Bertie Ahern in Ireland, has
given the Celtic nations' bid a timely boost. The prospect of Dublin staging
matches, especially if the Gaelic Athletic Association release Croke Park,
has strengthened the bid.

With the World Cup now scheduled to be staged in this continent, at best,
every 12 years, the larger nations are now likely to look towards the
European Championships with greater enthusiasm than before.

'They are not bidding against us this time and that is an advantage we
have,' said Henderson. 'With the World Cup now rotating countries such as
Italy, Spain, England, France and Germany will probably want to put their
hats into the ring for the European Championships in future.'

Grounds for optimism, then, but 2008 could be the last realistic chance for
Scotland and Ireland.

Celtic stadiums v. the opposition

Hampden Park, Glasgow Capacity 52,045; ready now

Celtic Park, Glasgow Capacity 60,501; ready now

Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow Capacity 50,444; ready now

Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh Capacity 67,500; ready now

Easter Road, Edinburgh* Capacity 34,880; upgrade required

Dundee Stadium, Dundee Capacity 31,400; new build

Aberdeen Stadium, Aberdeen Capacity 31,400; new build

Lansdowne Road, Dublin* Capacity 35,000; upgrade required

Stadium Ireland, Dublin Capacity 80,000; new build

Croke Park, Dublin Capacity 69,211; GAA approval required

Ullevi Stadium, Gothenburg Capacity 60,300;
ready now

Rasunda Stadium, Stockholm Capacity 41,530; ready now

Parken Stadium, Copenhagen Capacity 41,781; ready now

Ullevaal Stadium, Oslo Capacity 31,240; upgrade required

Lerkendal Stadium, Trondheim Capacity 30,849; upgrade required

Olympic Stadium, Helsinki Capacity 42,500; upgrade required

Ratina Stadium, Tampere Capacity 32,000; upgrade required

Ernst Happel Stadium, Vienna Capacity 50,000; ready now

Tivoli-Neu Stadium, Innsbruck Capacity 30,000; under construction

Salzburg Stadium, Salzburg Capacity 30,000; under construction

Waidmannsdorf-Neu Stadium, Klagenfurt Capacity 30,000; new build

St Jakob Park Stadium, Basle Capacity 30,000; ready now

Stade de Geneve, Geneva Capacity 30,000; under construction

Wankdorf Stadium, Berne Capacity 40,000; under construction

Zurich Stadium, Zurich Capacity 30,000; new build

* Back-up stadiums if required.

MacMirza fae Sarajevo TA

Total Posts: 921 | Joined Sep. 2001 | Posted on: 8:33 pm on June 2, 2002 | IP
Rista UF

From now on, Iíll have tae print posts like this one and then read it or Iíll go

Total Posts: 417 | Joined Mar. 2002 | Posted on: 9:50 pm on June 2, 2002 | IP

Aye, maybe I should have posted only the bit about the stadiums but anyway...

To tell you a secret - I never read long posts, just a bit of it

MacMirza fae Sarajevo TA

Total Posts: 921 | Joined Sep. 2001 | Posted on: 10:30 pm on June 2, 2002 | IP
Wee Rab

Something to say
>>>Ullevi Stadium, Gothenburg Capacity 60,300;
ready now<<<

Is this true?
Having been to the Ullevi I can't imagine it holding 60,000 without extensive re-building.

Total Posts: 55 | Joined Mar. 2002 | Posted on: 7:50 pm on June 4, 2002 | IP
Bottle of Smoke

Fresh ideas
Wankdorf Stadium


Total Posts: 4 | Joined July 2002 | Posted on: 12:51 am on July 3, 2002 | IP

Talks too much
Ullevi in Gotheburg will have new stands at either end, even so, also haveing been there, I'm amazed they can get it up to 60000 without flattening it and starting again.  Anyway, here's the details.


Total Posts: 115 | Joined Sep. 2001 | Posted on: 9:31 am on July 3, 2002 | IP

According to WorldStadiums.com:

Nya Ullevi
Built: 1958             all-seater


Total Posts: 2250 | Joined Sep. 2001 | Posted on: 12:33 pm on July 3, 2002 | IP

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