Today I welcomed the news that the Football Association of Ireland has expressed an interest in joining in a joint bid with the Football Associations of Scotland and Wales to host the European Championships in 2020. This is an exciting statement of intent. It’s a very early stage, but it’s plain to see that the European Championships hold a huge appeal, and great potential in terms of tourism revenue. It would also serve as a fantastic vehicle by which we could advertise our country.
I’d be keen to add that – at this stage – it’s only an expression of interest, as the championships are eight years away. However, I think it’s important that the FAI see the real excitement and enthusiasm that exists among the public for such an event to come to Ireland. From 2016 onwards, this tournament will have 24 countries participating instead of the 16 we currently see. Again, this is great news for the potential bid as there will be more countries, more fans and a bigger pie for the three countries to share. The upside is that, with two large world-class stadia already constructed, Ireland can definitely play a significant role in this bid without adding any further infrastructure.
Some say hindsight is seen with 20-20 vision but, with this, we can see that the future also needs 20-20 vision and, thankfully, the FAI seem to have that in abundance. I welcome this expression of interest and, while it’s only early stages, I’m glad they’re showing some ambition.