UEFA talk tough over UK, Ireland EURO 2028 bid



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UEFA not sure about UK 2028 bid anymore Image: Coliseum GSVA

The leaders of United Kingdom and Ireland’s bid to host EURO 2028 have been warned that the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is growing frustrated over delays in agreeing guarantees around policing, airports, tax exemptions, and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England (UK).

‘The Times’ stated that the nations have submitted a joint bid to host the tournament and are up against Turkey in the UEFA vote, which is due to take place in September 2023.

The 2028 UEFA European Football Championship, commonly referred to as UEFA EURO 2028 or simply EURO 2028, will be the 18th UEFA European Championship, the quadrennial international football championship organized by UEFA for the senior men’s national teams of its member-associations.

Nyon (Switzerland)-based the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is one of six continental bodies of governance in association football. It governs football, futsal and beach football in Europe and the Eurasian transcontinental countries of Russia, Turkey, Cyprus, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and Kazakhstan, as well as one Asian country Israel. UEFA consists of 55 national association members. Because of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, FIFA and UEFA suspended all Russian national teams and clubs from any FIFA and UEFA competitions.

The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is the home of Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur F.C. in North London, replacing the club’s previous ground, White Hart Lane. With a seating capacity of 62,850, it is the third-largest football stadium in England and the largest club ground in London (UK).

‘The Times’ further stated that it is understood Turkey has signed off all of its guarantees already, while UEFA had far fewer issues with the EURO 2024 hosts, Germany, than the UK and Irish bid. The message has been passed on to bid leaders that they need to sort out the guarantees as a matter of urgency.

The issue with Tottenham’s stadium is in relation to naming rights – UEFA’s rules insist on a “clean”, unbranded venue and insiders at European football’s governing body say an agreement has yet to be reached with the club.

Spurs, who have been in talks with Google and other companies about naming rights, insist they have agreed with the UEFA to find “an acceptable solution”. Although UEFA rates the stadium, opened in 2019, highly as a potential venue, insiders say it will not accept any compromise that would affect its commitment to “clean” stadiums.

There are no similar issues with the other branded stadiums on the list, the 53,400-capacity Etihad Stadium in Manchester, England (UK) and the 51,700-capacity Dublin’s Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, which have both provided guarantees that they will be known as the City of Manchester Stadium and the Dublin Stadium.

There are different problems involving the 31,661-capacity Casement Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, which is one of the 14 stadiums listed by the bid, and the only one in Northern Ireland. It requires substantial redevelopment, which is due to start next year, but UEFA still remains to be convinced about the final plan for the venue – and if that includes temporary stands for the tournament, which could be a big issue. The 14 stadiums on the list would be whittled down to 10 for the 24-team tournament.

The UEFA has sent a lengthy list of questions to the UK and Irish bid after the submission of their preliminary dossier last month and has made it clear that the issues need to be resolved quickly. The final dossier is due to be submitted in April. A bid spokesman said, “Following the submission of the UK and Ireland preliminary bid to the UEFA in November, we are working through the next phase of the process, including fully responding to UEFA’s follow-up questions.”

On policing, the tournament requirements are for teams to have police escorts that provide a smooth passage to the stadiums by closing off roads and therefore avoiding possible delays. Although most European countries are happy to provide that kind of escort, the Home Office has always been reluctant to agree to such measures for Champions League matches.

The other Government guarantees that still need to be signed off is around night flights and airports, and tax. The UEFA requires an income tax exemption for any player taking part in the tournament, which would mean that earnings during EURO 2028 would not be subject to UK income tax.

Bid insiders say that should not be a problem, however, as a similar exemption was granted by the Government for 2021 EURO 2020 matches and the UEFA Super Cup in Belfast.

The UEFA Super Cup is an annual super cup football match organized by UEFA and contested by the winners of the two main European club competitions, the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. The competition’s official name was originally the Super Competition, and later the European Super Cup.

In relation to the 2021 Super Cup exemption, the Government said, “The Government is committed to making sure the United Kingdom continues to be an attractive location to host international world-class sporting events. The granting of an income tax exemption supports this objective where the event in question is internationally mobile and where such an exemption is a condition of the bidding process to host the event.”

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