The Scottish and Welsh Football associations announced on March 1st that they would not be bidding to host the Euro 2016 football championship, only three months after confirming that they did intend to submit their proposal to UEFA.
Bidding deadline passes
The deadline for bids was March 9th, and four were submitted to UEFA before this date: France, Italy, Turkey and Norway-Sweden.
As well as the mooted Scotland-Wales bid, the Russian FA had publicly announced that they would submit a bid to host the championship but they too withdrew from the process before the deadline.
The Scottish-Welsh bid cited the global economic downturn as the prime reason for not submitting their bid, but there were other logistical reasons for withdrawing from the process.
UEFA confirmed in December 2008 that the 2016 event would be expanded from 16 to 24 teams and, consequently, the number of stadia needed to host the competition would also increase. UEFA defined the stadium criteria as follows: two at 50,000 capacity, three at 40,000 capacity and four at 30,000 capacity.
The joint Scottish-Welsh bid would have had the required number of 50,000 capacity stadia, but none of the existing stadia in Scotland or Wales have capacities of 40,000 or 30,000. To meet the requirements, existing stadia would need to expanded or new ones built. The costs involved would have been astronomical and clubs would be burdened with the running costs of new stadia with large capacities that they could never fill.
Ieuan Wyn Jones, the deputy minister for economy and transport in the Welsh Assembly, said: "Currently only the Millennium Stadium meets Uefa's requirements for this expanded tournament and the cost of bringing other venues up to this standard would run into tens of millions of pounds... In the current economic and financial climate, this is unaffordable."
In addition to the stadia criteria, Scotland would have faced serious logistical issues because three of the stadiums for the competition would be in one city: Glasgow. None of the submitted bids had more than one stadium per city.
A spokesman for the Scottish Football Association (SFA) said "The infrastructure required for the new expanded tournament makes it extremely difficult for us to even consider hosting. Quite apart from the stadia required, the pressure on transport, training camps and accommodation would be massive."
UEFA would also have been keen to avoid having fans from several countries based in one city, as the potential for violence between opposing fans would be greatly increased.
Whilst the SFA and FAW have publicly said that they would look to host the Euro Championships at some point in the future, i.e. when the economic situation has improved, it now looks highly unlikely that any small country will be able to host the competition.
The number of teams competing, large stadia required and other logistical issues all conspire to make it look as though the championship will be rotated amongst a small number of large countries.
With Scotland not having qualified for a major tournament since 1998, and Wales since 1958, it looks as though their best chance at appearing at appearing at one has gone.
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