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Following informal discussions between the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) and the Scottish Football Association (SFA) in Dublin last week, it has emerged that the countries are considering a joint bid between themselves, Wales and Northern Ireland to host the European Championships in 2008. With Hampden Park already down to host the 2002 European Champions League final, the Scots are eager to establish themselves as possible hosts, and the FAI are conscious of the need for money-spinning major tournaments as they set about spending in excess of £80m on the construction of Eircom Park.
"This all has its roots in an idea a guy was peddling last year about the possibility of the four Celtic countries hosting a World Cup," said FAI chief executive Bernard O'Byrne in Chicago yesterday. "We immediately dismissed that notion as far-fetched but I had a chat with the SFA chief executive David Taylor at the World Cup qualifying draw in Tokyo last year and we agreed that a European Championships might actually be viable and worth a bid."

The Irish dimension of the bid would require building to have already begun on Eircom Park and planning permission for that project remains at least two months away. But with three years to go before the submission of formal bids, the FAI feel that the idea is worth pursuing given that, in a best-case scenario, Eircom Park will be built by that point. The Scots, better served by proper stadia already, appear gung-ho.

"In the long-term," said David Taylor yesterday, "we are definitely looking at possibilities for international tournaments of whatever nature. Clearly, the World Cup is a non-starter - it's just too big an event.

"Getting the 2002 Champions League final is a terrific accolade and will definitely help our chances of getting other events in the future - there's no question of that. But we'd have to look at the other stadia and facilities apart from Hampden and see whether we would be sufficient on our own or would look to co-host.

"Some of the issues are not even about stadia - the number of hotels also comes into it. They are looking for 4,000 five-star hotel rooms for a single match - this is the sort of level you are talking about. We have to be realistic as well as looking at ways to stretch our ambitions. That is why the World Cup is a non-starter, it's fantasy land."

Scotland is already closer to meeting Uefa's stadia requirements than Portugal were when they were awarded the 2004 tournament last October. Of the 10 stadia the Portuguese plan to use, five will be completely new and the other half modernised.

Scotland already has four grounds fit for such a tournament, Hampden (52,046), Ibrox (50,403), Celtic Park (60,500) and, if the SRU agree, Murrayfield (67,500). Factor in Eircom Park, a rented Lansdowne Road or even the proposed Stadium Ireland in Abbotstown, a revamped Windsor Park (current capacity 28,500), and Cardiff's Millennium Stadium and the logistics are not as daunting as they first appear.

"It is all very preliminary at the moment," says O'Byrne. "But we are always looking to develop as an association and we think the issue definitely warrants further discussion. In the event of a joint bid involving four countries, we would envisage participating in a qualifying group with our co-hosts to sort out two qualifiers because you couldn't have a situation where four countries gain automatic tickets."

As things stand, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland would probably have the best chance of achieving joint automatic qualification. Both reached the Euro 2000 play-offs and feature in the upper echelons of Uefa's seeding system - unlike Northern Ireland and Wales.
 

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Don't think this will happen. There's too many of these joint bids anyway. One tourney in one country should be the way. Anyway you cant have all the Scottish fixtures in one city (Glasgow), and as for Windsor Park.. please spare me!
 
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UEFA have informed Scotland that they will not be allowed the 2008 Euro Championships.
As Scotland is part of Britain and England hosted Euro 96, it will be some time before they are allowed back here.
 
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Andy Roxburgh has revealed that Scotland are too small to host a European Championship.

Roxburgh, who now heads Uefa's Technical study group, has commented that realistically Scotland cannot handle such a large event.
"I would love to see the European Championship played in Scotland," said Roxburgh. "But that is just an emotional reaction.

"It has not only to do with stadiums, but whether a small country can cope with the influx of thousands of fans.

"It's an enormous undertaking. Belgium didn't take it on alone, even Holland didn't. Sweden coped in 1992 but there were only eight teams then.

"From Scotland's point of view, they would have to research it before making a bid.

"There's a lot more to it than saying 'We've got enough grounds. Have we got enough hotels?' Remember, three of our best stadiums are in one town.

"Can you imagine having Italy, Spain, Germany and England all in Glasgow? You wouldn't be able to move.

"I'm sure organisation would be okay, but it's just whether a small country could cope with 16 teams coming."

Roxburgh's reaction comes just a day after Scottish Football Association chief executive David Taylor confirmed that the SFA had decided to consider hosting the 2008 event.

"I gave a presentation to the executive committee in which I set out the advantages of Scotland bidding," said Taylor. "It included the likely costs of bidding for it and the likely opposition in terms of other bids.

"We had a discussion about whether it was worth taking matters further. The conclusion was 'Yes, this was a good idea'."

If Scotland were to push ahead with a bid then major re-investment in the Stadia would have to be forthcoming, as only four stadiums in the country meet Uefa's criteria for the tournament.

Europe's governing body states that any country needs six stadiums of 30,000 or more to host the Championships, and Scotland only have Ibrox, Celtic Park, Hampden Park and Rugby's Murrayfield.

Hibernian and Aberdeen have both though already stated that they would be willing to increase their mid-20,000 capacity stadiums to 30,000, if a bid was to be put together.
 
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