herald

Tuesday 21 August 2018

d-day for dublin bid

City would gain from the Aviva co-hosting Euro 2020

THERE are many reasons why Michel Platini will tomorrow name the 13 cities which have won the right to collectively host a sprawling Euro 2020 but the central theme is UEFA's 60th anniversary and, of course, cash.

When he first floated the plan, Platini was aware of the fact that most of Europe was in a financial hole. The expanded finals format of 24 teams and 51 games was too big a burden for one nation to shoulder alone.

But when he announced back in 2012 that the answer was to have games for everyone in the audience, many scratched their heads and imagined air traffic controllers sucking down gallons of black coffee while fans embarked on a kind of football cannonball run across the continent.

Of course the reality is that Europe's skies would hardly notice the difference if some extra charter flights mooch from city to city over a period of four weeks and - apart from those really committed hardcore fans who enjoy trailing behind the team bus - nobody would really notice if they didn't have the city name on the half-way line during televised match coverage.

Stadiums have become homogenised to the point where iconic arenas like the Nou Camp, the Bernabeu or the San Siro have been overtaken by newly painted concrete and glass palaces with plenty of room to sell things.

Once you're inside, they all feel the same but it has never really been about the bricks and mortar. It's the people that make the stadium - not vice-versa - as the FAI understand only too well.

At least the Aviva is distinctive but only because of its missing bit.

The overhang on to adjacent properties allowed the architects to throw up some absorbing pipework which catches the eye and saved many dull nights during Giovanni Trapattoni's last few years.

A total of 19 associations, all with sparkly, newish stadiums want to open their doors to Europe and scattered among them are several small countries that barely had a field to call their own back in the day when Jack Charlton brought his players on tour to the former Soviet Bloc nations.

Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, England, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Wales all submitted bid dossiers to UEFA on 25 April 2014 and tomorrow, we'll find out the winners.

Money

It would, of course, be a big deal if Dublin was to win and, no doubt, worth plenty of money to the city and UEFA.

A significant part of UEFA's evaluation report on Dublin as a potential host city deals with ticketing.

Apparently, the FAI have managed to convince the Government to change the law to facilitate the event and the report notes that it may be possible to apply for tax relief as a sporting enterprise.

That alone looks like a serious carrot.

The issues which have yet to be clarified are obvious.

If Dublin wins and Ireland qualify, do we get to play in the Aviva?

Or could we end up in Minsk?

Overall, there are very few negatives to be seen in this plan.

No doubt, some fans will find fault and argue that total immersion in the host nation is an intrinsic part of the finals' experience.

But football fans have always been mobile and more than happy to do what it takes to get to a game, no matter how far away.

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