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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 11 September, 2002, 10:23 GMT 11:23 UK
Euro 2008 bid in trouble
Scotland coach Bertie Vogts and First Minister Jack McConnell
Mr McConnell said the bid was not under threat
The joint bid by Scotland and Ireland to host the Euro 2008 football championships is facing failure because of a financial decision by the Dublin Government.

Ministers are to seek private funding of about 315m ($500m) to pay for a new stadium which is crucial to the bid's prospects of success.

But analysts and the Irish media are highly sceptical that the money can be raised.

Scotland's First Minister Jack McConnell and the team behind the bid insisted it had not been derailed by the absence of public money.


Nobody really believes that the private sector is going to build this stadium now

Emmet Malone
Irish Times

The application to host the European Championships hinges on Scotland providing six stadiums and Ireland two.

On Tuesday evening the Irish Government said it was not in a position to provide any Exchequer funding for the stadium project.

Mr McConnell said he had spoken to the Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, who assured him of the government's commitment to the bid.

'Setback' denial

Mr Ahern said: "What we have now agreed to do is to now look for expressions of interest from the private sector and try to move ahead with the development that way.

"Whether there will be expressions of interest we will have to wait to see, and I hope there will."

But Emmet Malone, a sports journalist with the Irish Times, cast doubt on Mr Ahern's comments.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern and
Bertie Ahern said he remained confident

"Nobody really believes that the private sector is going to build this stadium now, although Bertie Aherne's people are briefing people that there are two or three private investors who are willing to put money in," he said.

However, Mr McConnell said this merely represented a change in the funding method.

"I don't think it is a setback at all," he said. "They are very confident that they are still a full player in this bid."

A Scottish Executive spokesman said: "They have confirmed that their two preferred sites for the stadiums required in Ireland are Stadium Ireland and Croke Park, and that they are taking action to deliver both for Euro 2008.

'Quite common'

"We look forward to next week's visit by the Uefa inspection team, where they will see our four world class stadiums (Hampden, Ibrox, Celtic Park and Murrayfield), the plans for our other potential grounds and hear about the other important aspects of our bid."

Simon Lyons, the marketing director of the joint bid, told BBC Scotland that the development was a big political story in Ireland.

"But as regards the funding, it is merely shifting the funding from government funding to private funding, which is quite common in business," he said.

Euro 2008 bid logo

"It does represent two shifts in our planning. One is that they need to go out and pursue private investors aggressively.

"They are going to place adverts in the media on Friday and they will have to assess that response and see how positive it is."

Scottish Tory sports spokesman Brian Monteith said the development was a cause for concern.

He said: "This is deeply disappointing news, especially on the eve of the inspection visits by Uefa.

"It is a matter for the Irish whether the stadium is built with public or private money, but it is important we get a clear commitment that they can deliver on their part of the bid."

The decision on which bid has been successful will be made by Uefa's executive committee in December.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Political correspondent Kirsten Campbell
"Privately ministers accept it is a setback"
Marketing director Simon Lyons
"They need to go out and pursue private investors aggressively"

Euro 2008 bid

Stadium Ireland blow

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