The UK’s final bid to host the 2028 European Championships is in. And it looks like a pretty good one. While England does dominate the bid, that is to be expected. I think the grounds are split quite nicely across the four countries. While England has the majority of grounds included in the bid, that’s because they have the majority of grounds that could be included in a bid like this. When Uefa is reviewing these types of bids to host their big international tournaments, the quality of stadiums is one of the main things they look at. And with two yet-to-be built stadiums on the list, that will be easily satisfied. I like that fact as well that they have spread the English stadiums across the country. While the other partners in this bid will be represented by their respective national stadiums (Hampden Park, the Principality Stadium and the Aviva Stadium), England will stadiums in London, Liverpool, Newcastle, Birmingham and Manchester. It makes the whole bid much more of a collaboration between the countries involved. The British Isles are very small, especially compared to recent nations like France, so making use of stadiums in all home nations means that the tournament is not condensed into one tiny area. And more will feel the benefits of hosting.
Observers might wonder why a stadium like Old Trafford is not one of the ten selected to be part of the bid. Well, I have been to Old Trafford. It was nearly 20 years ago, but even then, I was not overly impressed. That may have been due to the competitive rivalry going on between Manchester United and Chelsea at the time, as well as my inner fan not allowing any stadium to come close to my beloved Stamford Bridge. But, even back then, Old Trafford looked and felt like a soulless place All concrete and steel with no heart. Potentially the main reason why Old Trafford was taken off this list is that almost no work on expanding or renovating the ground has taken place that same amount of time. The ground looks exactly the same with the same cramped rows of seats, the same rubbish concourses, the same naff WiFi, the same leaky roof etc, etc. It may be iconic as a football location, but it is not a good modern stadium.
Including Bramley-Moore Dock and Casement Park, the two unbuilt stadiums, in this bid as well, is a very good move. When football federations are reviewing bids to host major tournaments, they always seem to look very favourably on bids that either have new stadiums being built as part of the bid or major renovations to a lot of stadiums. The building of two new stadiums might be what tips things in the UK bid’s favour. According to reports, the only other real competition to host the tournament is Turkey. And to be fair, Turkey has several famous clubs with decent to good stadiums and a fervent support for the game among its population. Furthermore, Turkey would be a great venue to have a summer tournament in; the weather would be good but not so ridiculously hot that you would need to move the damn thing to winter, like Qatar and the most recent World Cup. It would also possibly to raise the morale of Turkey and the surrounding area after the devastating earthquakes that hit the region earlier this year. There is six years to get themselves ready for the tournament. You would think though that their priority should be repairing the infrastructure that was destroyed, and helping those worst affected by this disaster.
The UK hasn’t seen a major men’s football tournament since England hosted Euro 96. I was alive at the time, but I was a grand total of five months old when it was on so I can’t exactly remember it. This would be something akin to the Euro 2020 final. And yes, Wembley was the stadium where that final was held but England wasn’t the host nation for that tournament; there was no host nation. A major men’s football tournament in the UK is long overdue, especially if it is a joint effort between all of the home nations. From a purely sporting point of view, I would love to see it happen