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Scotland-Wales Euro 2016 bid abandoned

1 March 2009 23:55

CARDIFF (AFP) - Scotland and Wales have abandoned a planned joint bid to host the 2016 European Championships due to the economic downturn, Welsh football chiefs said Sunday.

The Football Association of Wales said UEFA's decision to expand the tournament to 24 teams was also a factor.

"After careful consideration, the FAW and the Scottish Football Association (SFA) have decided not to make a joint bid to host the Euro 2016 Football Championships," the governing body said on its website.

FAW secretary general David Collins added: "The current economic downturn and the very considerable implications for infrastructure provision following UEFA's decision to expand the European Championship finals to 24 teams are key considerations.

"While the ambition to host a future tournament remains undiminished, the unanimous view is that a bid for Euro 2016 is premature and will not maximise Scotland and Wales' chances of success.

"It is well understood and appreciated that many football fans will be disappointed that Wales and Scotland will not be bidding for the Euro 2016 finals, but we must be realistic about hosting a tournament of this size.

"The immediate focus and priority of the FAW is the effort to qualify the national team for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the Euro 2012 finals in Poland and Ukraine."

The current UEFA bid regulations stipulate that at least nine stadia are required. Four must have at least 30,000 seats, three must have at least 40,000 seats and two must have at least 50,000.

The only stadia with a 30,000-plus capacity in Scotland are Celtic Park, Hampden and Ibrox in Glasgow and the Murrayfield rugby stadium in Edinburgh, while Cardiff's Millennium Stadium is the one in Wales.

Welsh Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said: "The (Welsh) Assembly government has been looking at the potential investment required to support a bid to host this tournament.

"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 (dollars, euros).

"In the current economic and financial climate, this is unaffordable.

"We will continue to work hard at bringing world-class events to Wales, which can provide economic and cultural benefits to our nation."

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