By Mark Wyatt
Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, which missed out on staging matches at the 2020 European Championships, have been offered another chance to bid for the event. Traditionally the competition has been held in one country every four years, most recently in France in 2016. However, in order to inject some much-needed enthusiasm into the contest, UEFA have spread the 2020 edition across 13 different host-cities.
Currently Hampden Park (Scotland), Wembley Stadium (England) and the Aviva Stadium (Republic or Ireland) have all been given matches to host, with Wembley in line to host both semi-finals and the final. Cardiff recently confirmed that councillors have approved the bid which would potentially see the Principality host three group stage matches.
The opportunity for this new fast-track bid has arisen due to UEFA’s fresh concerns over the completion of the 60,000 Eurostadium which is yet to be built in Brussels.
Currently the Principality, Wembley and Stockholm stadiums are in contention for the matches and a decision is likely to be made on 7 December by the Uefa Executive Committee.
It’s believed that the successful 2017 Champions League Final, hosted in Cardiff, will provide UEFA with the assurances that the Principality Stadium is a suitable venue for the European Championships.
The FA Wales are said to be ‘delighted’ with the opportunity to put in another bid.
If successful then the latest estimates suggest the matches will provide a £110m boost to the city through travel, tourism, sponsorship and the match-day experience.
Cardiff council leader Huw Thomas was upbeat about the proposal: “The world knows Cardiff can put on a show. Hosting the Champions League in May proved that beyond any doubt.” His feelings were matched by councillor Peter Bradbury:
“For most people this will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the Euro Championships near their home”.
The spectacle would certainly be welcome in the Welsh capital, especially after their maiden entry into the competition in 2016 saw them reach the semi-finals to the bewilderment of the nation. It may also provide a welcome boost in morale for the tournament, albeit only if Wales qualify for it.
After failing to reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia, there will be even more pressure on the team to rectify their shortcomings and qualify for the event.
With Wales currently without a manager, following the resignation of Chris Coleman, it will be down to the new man/woman to ensure Wales are represented at a tournament that they could be hosting. Should the bid be successful, then it’ll be another fantastic opportunity for Cardiff to add to their list of impressive events hosted in the capital.