It’s coming home! Euro 2028 is set to be held in the UK and Ireland with the joint-hosts submitting an unopposed bid after rivals Turkey and Russia dropped out of the running
- The UK and Ireland are set to be the hosts of the 2028 European Championships
- It is understood that their bid will be unopposed with Turkey likely to withdraw
- The FAs only announced their intention to bid for the tournament last month
- Initially they planned for an ambitious campaign to land the 2030 World Cup
Turkey are likely to withdraw their candidacy as they failed in two recent bids to host the Euros in 2016 and 2024 and want to avoid being beaten again, while Russia’s planned bid is a non-starter given the country’s suspension from international sport.
UEFA are understood to be receptive to an unopposed contest as it would provide certainty in a difficult period with a war in eastern Europe and all of their 55 national associations struggling financially after incurring huge losses during the pandemic.
The UK and Ireland are set to win the right to host Euros 2028 with an unopposed bid
The formal bidding process was due to drag on until September 2023, but, if only one bid is received. UEFA will announce the hosts far earlier, assuming the UK and Ireland effort meets the organisers’ technical requirements, which is regarded as a formality.
The five football associations — of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland — only announced their intention to bid for the tournament last month having ruled out a more ambitious campaign to land the 2030 World Cup.
Ahead of the March 23 deadline for registering an intention to bid they appear to be the only runners, after the Turkish FA made clear to UEFA that they would only bid for the tournament if they were unopposed and Russia were ruled out following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland submitted a joint bid
UEFA had strongly encouraged a UK and Ireland bid during informal talks last year as they are regarded as risk-free hosts who could deliver a financially successfully tournament in front of passionate fans in packed stadiums.
Euro 2024 will take place in Germany and UEFA executives have expressed a strong desire for the next competition to be held in another major market that can guarantee huge profits after the European competition organiser incurred losses of around £700million last year due to Covid.
The violence that marred last summer’s Euro 2020 final at Wembley has not been held against the FA’s involvement in the bid, with UEFA viewing it as a one-off event caused by England’s first major final appearance for 55 years and a mass release of frustration following the emergence from lockdown — as well as placing much of the blame at the door of the Metropolitan Police for their poor security operation.
The five FAs submitted a bid only after dropping a more ambitious bid for the 2030 World Cup
Other than the final, the rest of the matches staged in England last year were viewed as a success. UEFA were also grateful to the FA for stepping in to host additional games at Wembley at late notice and for the pressure they put on the Government to give exemptions from Covid travel restrictions to their visiting dignitaries. The FA have been able to lay much of the groundwork for the tournament by producing a feasibility study for the 2030 World Cup bid and many of the plans in that document can be transferred to the Euro 2028 proposal.
It is expected that UEFA will increase the size of the competition from 24 to 32 teams for Euro 2028 so a minimum of 12 host grounds will be needed.
The one major issue to resolve is how to ensure matches can take place in Northern Ireland as, with a capacity of just 18,500, Windsor Park in Belfast does not meet UEFA’s tournament criteria for all stadiums to have a minimum capacity of 30,000.
The Tottenham Hostpur Stadium (pictured), alongside the Aviva Stadium and Hampden Park will be among the stadiums hosting games
Building a new ground in Northern Ireland is under consideration, but it is hoped that upgrading Windsor Park to 25,000 would be enough to satisfy UEFA, particularly given the compelling political dimension of staging a cross-border tournament on the island of Ireland.
The Aviva Stadium in Dublin, the Principality in Cardiff and Glasgow’s Hampden Park will definitely be used, while Edinburgh’s Murrayfield and Croke Park in Dublin are also under consideration.
The final is certain to take place at Wembley but competition among English venues for other games will be fierce, particularly in London.
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is sure to feature so either Arsenal’s Emirates or West Ham’s London Stadium could miss out.
Organisers will aim to achieve a geographical spread across the country leading to choices between Villa Park and the King Power Stadium in the Midlands, Old Trafford and the Etihad in Manchester, Anfield and Everton’s proposed new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock on Merseyside and Newcastle’s St James’ Park or Leeds’ Elland Road.