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IFA hope for further Euro 2016 talks

Updated: Thursday, 04 Dec 2008 09:25

IFA president Raymond Kennedy is heading up the association's bid to co-host Euro 2016
IFA president Raymond Kennedy is heading up the association's bid to co-host Euro 2016

The Irish Football Association are keen to hold further talks with their Scottish counterparts over the possibility of a joint bid for the 2016 European Championships - but they are set to lose out to the Welsh.

All three national associations confirmed yesterday informal discussions over attempting to stage the finals in eight years' time had taken place.

More talks are set to be held in February, but PA Sport understands the Scottish Football Association favour a joint bid with Wales as Northern Ireland does not possess the stadia required.

IFA president Raymond Kennedy admits a radical overhaul of facilities is needed in the country.

Plans for a new national stadium to replace Windsor Park have long been in the pipeline, but no decision has yet been taken about the best way forward.

Kennedy said: ‘I would be delighted if we were part of any bid for a championship that would give us some games.

‘But, frankly, I do not think we are in that position at the moment because we do not have any stadiums that are suitable.

‘Hopefully things might change in that respect and we will have a new national stadium in about two years' time.’

He added: ‘We are due to meet the Scots in other business in the New Year and would be prepared to have more formal talks then about a possible bid for the championship.

‘At the moment, we have held only tentative discussions about the situation. It is certainly an interesting idea.’

The IFA's only hope of landing the tournament appears to lie in convincing their Scottish and Welsh counterpart's to launch a three-way bid.

But UEFA are unlikely to accept three host nations, as the privilege brings automatic qualification for the finals.

The possibility of Scotland hosting a European finals alone all but disappeared in September when UEFA announced they were increasing the number of participants from 16 to 24 in eight years' time.

That plan was originally put forward by the SFA, who failed in a joint bid with their counterparts in the Republic of Ireland to host this year's finals.

But they still harbour hopes of bringing the tournament to Scotland.

‘As we've always said, we would love to host the European Championships in Scotland,’ an SFA spokesman said.

‘However, we realise it's a huge undertaking and, as far as 2016 goes, we simply couldn't host it by ourselves.

‘We're meeting with the other Home Nations at the International Football Association board meeting in Belfast in February. I'm sure it's something we'll discuss.

‘If there was a feeling that a bid was a possibility, we would then commission a feasibility study.’

An FAW spokesman told PA Sport ‘very tentative’ discussions have been ongoing for some time, and the matter will be discussed at their council meeting next week.

Scottish Football Association president George Peat doubts the country can cope with hosting the European Championship finals.

Peat told the Daily Record: ‘Wales are keen to pursue it but this is only a recent request from them.

‘February is the next time we will officially meet but the SFA has not really considered this at the minute.

‘We fought to get the number of entrants to the European Championship up to 24 teams in order to give us a better chance of qualifying - and succeeded.

‘But in doing so it now gives any host nation a much larger headache.

‘They would need to introduce additional stadia and nobody at this stage has said what that minimum number of stadia would be. Until we get such information, we can’t consider anything.

‘We haven’t really got down to discussing it yet but given the increased number of stadia that could be required, I don’t think we could cope.’

UEFA are set to seek bid submissions for the 2016 finals in the spring, and the expansion is likely to see the number of 30,000-plus stadia needed to host the tournament increase from eight to at least 10.

Scotland has only four such grounds, and Wales just one, but most bidding countries start from a position of having to develop existing facilities or build new ones.

That includes Poland and Ukraine, who are hosting the 2012 finals.

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