Scottish FA chief Stewart Regan has revealed that UEFA have put on record for the first time that they will consider bids for the European Championships from more than two countries as multiple tournament hosts.
That assurance, and the scent of an enticing opportunity to bid for one of sport’s three huge events, has led to the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales and to formally declare an interest in ’tri-hosting’ Euro 2020.
Regan insisted there had been no attempt by UEFA to persuade the Celtic nations to declare an interest to prevent a situation where Turkey looked likely to be the only candidate.
He told the Press Association: “The only encouragement was in the letter from UEFA that came out to all the associations with the acknowledgement that bids from more than two countries would be considered – that was the first time that had been put on record.
“It’s now a case of deciding whether it’s a goer or not. So far this is just an expression of interest.”
Regan said even though the deadline for expressions of interest passed at midnight that would not prevent other countries entering the contest at a later date.
Until this week, only Turkey had come forward and the prospect of a straight vote against that bid alone has prompted the FAs of Ireland, Scotland and Wales to take a first significant step towards submitting a bid of their own.
Georgia have also come forward but the former Soviet republic would struggle to satisfy UEFA’s criteria on the number and quality of stadiums, especially as the tournament will expand from 16 to 24 teams in four years’ time.
Turkey at one point looked nailed on to become hosts after being publicly supported by UEFA president Michel Platini but that bid is now in some disarray. The Turkish FA have been engulfed by allegations of corruption and match-fixing in Turkish football, and a Euro 2020 bid conflicts with Istanbul’s bid to land the Olympics in the same year.
Platini had signalled he would support Turkey’s bid but only if Istanbul failed in its Olympic bid. UEFA executive committee members much prefer being able to choose between more than one candidate, and having a rival for Euro 2020 also gets the International Olympic Committee out of a hole because they could not vote for Istanbul if Turkey were the only Euro bidder.
One senior figure at UEFA said that Turkey have real problems to deal with and that could open the way for the Celtic nations.
He said: “Many in UEFA are losing patience with Turkey due to the chaos in the football there. The Olympic clash does not help either so this could be good news for Scotland, Wales and Ireland if they were to proceed with a bid.”
UEFA have had some bad experiences with co-hosting with different governments, different police forces and different tax regimes.
The expansion of the tournament means however that very few countries could practically be solo hosts, and England, Germany, and Spain have all ruled themselves out while France are hosting Euro 2016 and Russia are concentrating on the 2018 World Cup. A joint Scandinavian bid also looks unlikely due to a lack of political support.