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Thursday, 12 December, 2002, 11:31 GMT
Scottish-Irish 2008 bid stays alive
Scotland and Ireland's bid to host the Euro 2008 football championship has survived the first cut.

Three of the seven contenders - Russia, Hungary and a joint bid between Bosnia and Croatia - have been rejected by Uefa officials meeting in Geneva.

The other remaining bidders are Austria/Switzerland, Greece/Turkey and a Nordic submission from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

The committee is now holding a vote and the bid that receives an absolute majority (half plus one vote of the eligible members) will be designated as the hosts of Euro 2008.

The seven candidates
Austria/Switzerland
Sweden/Denmark/Norway/ Finland
Scotland/Ireland
Hungary
Greece/Turkey
Russia
Bosnia/Croatia
If no bid wins a majority of the votes, the bidder with the lowest vote will be eliminated, and a final ballot will take place between the two remaining bidders.

An announcement is expected in the early part of Thursday afternoon.

Scotland's Sports Minister Mike Watson insisted that the Celtic countries would do Uefa proud if the bid is successful.

"We are selling it on the fact we have larger grounds than the others, which brings in extra income for Uefa," Watson told BBC Radio Five Live.

'Tempting proposition

"We have held major tournaments, the Champions League last season in Glasgow and every weekend in Glasgow we have over 50,000 people attending a football match."

Watson added that he thought the Celtic bid's main rival - the Austrian-Swiss bid - may suffer rather than benefit from the fact that Uefa is based in Switzerland.

"Uefa might not want to be seen to be favouring that country," he said.

Simon Lyons and David Taylor in Geneva
Simon Lyons and David Taylor in Geneva
"We can host the kind of tournament that would do Uefa proud and the prospect of the people of Scotland and Ireland engaging in the way Japan and South Korea did at the World Cup is a tempting proposition for them."

David Taylor, bid leader and chief executive of the Scottish Football Association said: "We went in there and gave them a strong presentation of a strong bid.

"We have a real chance of staging what is in effect the world's third-largest sports event and from the informal feedback we have had, we are going to have a pretty nervous time waiting."

Political views

Marketing director Simon Lyons claimed there may be an element of political voting in the final count.

"We are up against some pretty tough competition and the decision is not just a straightforward one," said Lyons.

"It involves politics as well which is much harder to read. But we believe we have a very strong case on paper and on merit.

"People have their political views and perceptions but it is whether those are strong.

"Very few will have made up their mind before the presentation.

"They will go into that presentation with a very open mind - very few of the delegates will have buttoned down their decision before then."

John Henderson, director of the Irish bid, added: "From a commercial aspect, the 31 games in Scotland and Ireland will be available to 1.7m people to actually go watch the games.

"Also, Dublin is the first most-visited city in Europe after London and Paris so it is a home for tourism where people can have a good time and watch football."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's James Helm
"People feel they can host a great tournament"
Scottish sports minister Mike Watson
"We've got the experience of hosting major events"
Irish bid director John Henderson
"There could be a dark horse coming through"

Scots-Irish despair

The failed bid

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