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Commonwealth Games 2002

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Thursday, 28 February, 2002, 13:05 GMT
Celtic partners lodge Euro 2008 bid
Hampden Park
Hampden Park, in Glasgow, will be used in the bid
Football authorities in Scotland and Ireland have sealed their bid to host the Euro 2008 tournament.

Officials from the Football Association of Ireland travelled to Glasgow to sign the formal letter of application at Hampden Park on Thursday.

The move follows an 11th hour deal in Dublin, where Irish ministers agreed to delay a decision on which stadia would be used.


I am absolutely confident that both sides can produce a first-class bid which can produce the best championships ever

Jack McConnell
First Minister
Under the joint bid Ireland will provide two of the eight stadia required to host the tournament.

However, plans for a new national stadium - dubbed The Bertie Bowl - sparked a row between Ireland's two governing parties.

Prime Minister Bertie Ahern wants the project to go ahead but his junior coalition partners are opposed to the expense.

After the last-minute talks in Dublin the two parties have agreed that a steering group will now look at all the options over the next few months.

These include upgrading Lansdowne Road and borrowing Gaelic football's 80,000-seater Croke Park.

Deadline

The Gaelic Athletic Association has now agreed to review its ban on other sports.

The compromise allowed football bosses to meet Thursday's deadline for confirming bids for the event.

Scotland's First Minister Jack McConnell said: "I am absolutely delighted the Irish government have done exactly what they said they would do, and come in by the deadline.

"We now have a good bid and this is a very exciting time for football.

Tartan Army
The Tartan Army has been consulted
"I am absolutely confident that both sides can produce a first-class bid which can produce the best championships ever.

"It is a time to be positive and put the cynicism and suspicion behind us."

Mr McConnell spoke to the Taoiseach on Thursday and received a letter confirming the Irish Government's backing.

The two countries will now put together the bid document, giving details of the stadia and the infrastructure, which must be submitted by 31 May.

The breakthrough was described as "excellent news" by the Scottish Football Association.


Jack McConnell's handling of it has threatened the bid's credibility and come close to scuppering our chances

John Swinney
SNP leader
It has also been welcomed by opposition politicians in Scotland - despite criticism of the way the process was handled.

And former first minister Henry McLeish, who was in favour of a solo bid when he was in office, said he was delighted by the Irish Government's decision to get on board.

"It is tremendous news for both countries and tremendous news for football. Clearly there are more difficulties with a joint bid, but it can succeed.

"We saw that with the Dutch and Belgians last time and there is no reason we can't have a very good bid if we get down to detailed planning," said Mr McLeish.

He added that it was important to be positive. But he said he recognised the pitfalls of a joint bid, including dealing with two football associations, one executive and one government.

Credibility 'threatened'

Mr McLeish said if successful Scotland would benefit from an economic boost and both countries would enhance their international standing.

Scottish National Party leader John Swinney said he was "relieved" that the bid would go ahead.

"It has not, however, been the best of starts," he said.

"Jack McConnell's handling of it has threatened the bid's credibility and come close to scuppering our chances.

Brian Monteith
Brian Monteith welcomed the news
"We must make now sure that our bid is first class and that there is no lack of ambition from the Scottish Executive."

Scottish Conservative sports spokesman Brian Monteith said a "disaster" had been averted.

"An excellent opportunity for Scotland to host one of the world's most widely watched sporting events almost lay in tatters," he said.

"Let's hope that bid troubles are behind us and we can get on with winning for the football fans and economies of Scotland and Ireland."

He said "dither and delay" by the executive were to blame for the bid being in "jeopardy" on Wednesday.

"The executive has taken what should have been a simple task and almost turned it into a humiliating fiasco," he said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Scotland's Alan Mackay reports
"It has been quite a rollercoaster for Scottish football officials"
Sports Minister Mike Watson
"We will now go forward and put the details of the bid document together"
Sheila Foggarty reports
"If Scotland and Ireland are serious their bid must be in by the end of the day"
See also:

28 Feb 02 | Scotland
Scots and Irish announce joint bid
27 Feb 02 | Scotland
Row mars Euro 2008 bid
31 Jan 02 | Scotland
Fans split over Euro 2008 bid
29 Jan 02 | Scotland
Euro 2008 bid talks kick off
24 Jan 02 | Scotland
'Come together' plea over 2008 bid
23 Jan 02 | Scotland
No solo Scots bid for Euro 2008
18 Jan 02 | Scotland
Tartan Army marches on Holyrood
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