The Home Nations and Republic of Ireland are to launch a joint bid to host Euro 2028

England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have announced a joint bid to host Euro 2028, and will drop proposals to stage the 2030 World Cup.

The five football associations have come to a collective decision after what the FA called “an extensive feasibility study” based on the economic impact, the political football landscape and likely costs of hosting the tournament – and with a UEFA deadline of March 23 to submit applications looming fast.

In making the decision, the five nations have jointly agreed not to bid for the 2030 World Cup, an aim which was included in the Conservatives’ 2019 election manifesto but which was felt had an increasingly slim chance of success. The government said it “accepted” the associations’ reasons for ending a World Cup bid, and “remained passionate” about bringing the World Cup to the UK at some point in future.

No discussions have taken place with UEFA about automatic entry of hosts to the finals, but it is unlikely that UEFA will guarantee the participation of all five nations without the need for any to pre-qualify.

A joint statement from the football associations of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland said: “On balance, the five associations have decided to focus solely on an official bid to host UEFA EURO 2028, and have agreed not to bid for the 2030 FIFA World Cup.

“Hosting a UEFA EURO offers a similar return on investment, with the European tournament carrying a far lower delivery cost and the potential of the benefits being realised sooner.

“It would be an honour and a privilege to collectively host UEFA EURO 2028 and to welcome all of Europe. It would also be a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate the true impact of hosting a world-class football tournament by driving positive change and leaving a lasting legacy across our communities.

“We believe the UK and the Republic of Ireland can offer UEFA and European football something special in 2028 – a compact and unique five-way hosting collaboration that will provide a great experience for the teams and the fans.”

England’s Wembley Stadium hosted eight games at Euro 2020, including both of the semi-finals and final, which Gareth Southgate’s side lost to Italy on penalties.

Significant crowd trouble at the final was later condemned by an FA report which found only “near misses” avoided fatalities occurring around the ground.

Four games were also played at Hampden Park in Scotland, the first and only time any of the other nations in the joint bid has hosted matches at a major finals.

Dublin’s Aviva Stadium had also been due to host four games, but as a consequence of the Covid pandemic its matches were redistributed to St Petersburg and London.

UEFA is considering increasing the size of the European Championships to 32 teams for the 2028 tournament, matching the current World Cup size, having already raised the number to 24 from 16 between 2016 and 2020.

In announcing its part in the joint bid, Football Association of Wales president Stephen Williams said: “Here in Wales, The Red Wall have a special affinity with the European Championships and for us to potentially see Cymru participating as a host country at UEFA EURO 2028 is an exciting prospect.

“I’m incredibly proud that the Football Association of Wales is supporting this bid alongside the football associations of Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and the Republic of Ireland.

“The positive impact that this will have on Wales as a whole is immeasurable and will leave a long-lasting legacy.”

“The five nations have stressed the Euros is the third biggest sporting event in the world, and they believe this joint bid will be the strongest on offer to UEFA, both in terms of facilities and the amount of money it will generate.

“All nations believe, if successful, it will be a major boost to football in the UK and Ireland – both in terms of encouraging more youngsters to take up the game, and a big boost in revenue for all grassroots and professional levels of the game.

“The tournament represents a ‘multi-billion pound injection of cash’ into the five nations, and the FA CEOs believe all governments are ‘broadly supportive’.

“UEFA have made no secret the 2024 and 2028 Euros are prime opportunities for them to replenish their coffers which were significantly diminished during the coronavirus pandemic – this is where the joint UK and Ireland bid thinks it is very strong commercially.

“No details have been agreed so far on the actual venues for the tournament, should the bid prove successful, but there is widespread acknowledgement that Wembley would host the final and at least one of the semi-finals. No discussions have taken place with UEFA about automatic entry of hosts to the finals, but it is unlikely that UEFA will guarantee the participation of all five nations without the need for any to pre-qualify.

“The CEOs say plans to host the World Cup have been abandoned because there were significant “uncertainties”, specifically concerns over cost, the tight timeline to bid, and the chances of winning.

“The politics between UEFA and FIFA can’t be ignored here – it is worth noting that 2028 is the first year FIFA has proposed the introduction of a biennial World Cup, which UEFA is strongly opposed to. FIFA says it is still discussing with all 211 member nations what is the best future for the global game.

“This bid can be interpreted as a staunch political support by the UK and Ireland FAs in favour of UEFA, and against the FIFA proposals. The voting system to award World Cups has changed since England [in particular] last lodged a bid. Now, it is no longer seen as such a closed shop, with a small number of FIFA officials making the decision. The decision now rests on a vote of all 211 member nations.”

Source: Sky sports