We seem to be getting somewhere now as far as the plans are concerned for this Europe-wide UEFA EURO 2020, with bid regulations on the agenda for the next meeting of the UEFA Executive Committee, which takes place in Sofia, Bulgaria next Thursday. The committee, chaired by UEFA President Michel Platini, being asked to approve the bidding requirements and bid regulations for the final tournament.
As far as potential venues are concerned the bidding process requires a 70,000 minimum capacity for the semi-finals and final, 60,000 for the quarter-finals, 50,000 for the round of 16 and group matches, with up to two exceptions also being allowed for stadiums of a minimum capacity of 30,000 seats, limited to group matches and a round of 16 game. Platini commenting on that idea: “The fact that there can be two stadiums with a minimum capacity of 30,000 is going to raise the number of cities which are going to be interested by EURO 2020.”
The blurb on the UEFA website also gives us a quote which I should imagine most of us would note with raised eyebrows as it reads: “Football fans are to be given full consideration. Allocating hosting teams to the tournament groups would also take travel distances into account, for example, and, where feasible, flights would not exceed two hours' duration between host cities. The objective is to allow easy access to travelling fans to watch the action and share in the EURO 2020 experience.”
Whether that will turn out to be true of course is extremely open to opinion, but the fact that both the semi-finals and the final will be played in the same stadium means fans of two countries won’t at least have to pack their bags every time they want to watch their team play. Alongside that though a total of 13 venues, one in each country, will host the tournament with bid packages being split into 13 to match that up with associations being able to present up to two bids – one for the 12 'ordinary' packages and one for the semi-finals/final package.
UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino also repeating the party line that having the tournament in 13 different countries is for the fans as he comments: “The fans can expect to see a fantastic European Championship. Not only the fans of one country can enjoy the EURO, but the fans of 13 countries – this is the first step towards the fans. Then, when it comes to the fans as well, the fact that the Executive Committee will choose 13 cities in 13 different countries – of course, there will be important cities. There will be capitals of different countries, so the transportation between these cities will certainly also be easier.”
Transportation might be easier in the eyes of Infantino, but quite how it can be better for the fans to have to travel between maybe four or five countries if their team makes it to the latter stages of the tournament I really don’t know. Financially you end up with a massively inflated cost of around six or seven flights instead of one in and one out, while you’ll also have to spend a big chunk of your time travelling around and packing and unpacking your bags.
It’s going to happen though so we’ll have to get used to the idea, although it’s certainly going to be a long 18 months ahead in the planning and process stages. Next month seeing the publication of the bid requirements and the launch of the bidding phase, September bringing formal confirmation of the bids, April and May 2014 seeing submission of dossiers and the beginning of the evaluation phase, while September of the same year brings the final decision on the host cities from the UEFA Executive Committee.
It should certainly be a cash cow from their point of view though with some inevitable high bids coming in from across Europe, particularly for the semi-finals and final package, which promises to be a very expensive auction. It looks highly likely that bids will be made in respect of the Aviva Stadium, Hampden Park, the Millennium Stadium and Wembley Stadium though, so we might be able to break the bank and get a piece of the action in the British Isles ourselves.