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Sunday, 15 September, 2002, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK
Croke Park ruled out for Euro 2008
GAA headquarters in Croke Park, Dublin
Only Gaelic Games can be played at Croke Park
The Gaelic Athletic Association has no intention of allowing Croke Park to be used on a once-off basis for the 2008 European Football Championships, according to a leading official.

Uefa officials will visit Dublin on Monday to inspect prospective Euro 2008 venues - including Croke Park.

These latest comments are unlikely to boost the chances of the joint Scottish-Irish bid.

The bid was thrown into turmoil last week when the Irish government announced that it would be unable to fund the proposed Stadium Ireland project.

Following that surprise news, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said he was hopeful that private sector investment would enable the project to go ahead.

He also indicated that he would ask the GAA to make Croke Park available as a Euro 2008 venue.

However, a member of the GAA's Central Council told the Sunday Tribune newspaper that Mr Ahern's request would be turned down.

GAA president Sean McCague has described the Scottish-Irish Euro 2008 bid as flawed
GAA president Sean McCague: "Flawed bid"

"If Croke Park is to be opened to other sports, it will be based on our needs and not to promote a soccer tournament," said the official, who didn't want to be named.

The Central Council member added that if there was a first soccer game at Croke Park, it wouldn't be a Euro 2008 match.

The chances of the GAA agreeing to open Croke Park to other sports before Uefa announces the Euro 2008 hosts in December, are thought to be virtually nil.

GAA president Sean McCague is also on record as describing the decision to include Croke Park as part of the bid as "flawed".

A GAA special congress will be held at the end of October to debate possible changes to gaelic football.

However that gathering is not scheduled to discuss the Croke Park issue.

A motion calling for the 80,000 capacity stadium to be opened to soccer and rugby was comfortably defeated at the GAA's annual congress in April.

A similar proposal had been lost by one vote at the 2001 annual congress.

"No-strings-attached"

Immediately prior to the 2001 congress vote, the Irish government promised to give the GAA almost 50m to complete the Croke Park redevelopment.

There have been suggestions that the Irish government may now not be able to give the remaining 25m of the grant because of current economic difficulties.

The GAA is said to be angry at the political pressure that was exerted on them last week to open up their headquarters.

There were suggestions from Irish government circles last week that the grant was given to the GAA on the understanding that the Stadium Ireland project would go ahead.

However, the GAA insists the grant was a "no-strings-attached" deal and that the Irish government is legally bound to pay them the remainder of the money.


Euro 2008 bid

Stadium Ireland blow

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