UEFA President Michel Platini is determined to foist his mad-cap Euro vision on the rest of us by staging the 2020 championship in multiple cities across the continent. England have plumped for the final and, in the process, both threaten to scupper Ireland’s bid to host the tournament.
Just like in the movie Braveheart, the union of the French and British could spell disaster for the Scots and their Irish allies. Mel Gibson managed to woo Princess Isabelle. Giovanni Trapattoni may have to have a word in the ear of his former Juventus prince and tell him to quit ruining Ireland’s footballing fortunes.
Not content with tossing a curve-ball our way by declaring just weeks ahead of the 2009 play-off with his native France that the higher seed would enjoy home advantage, Platini was in London this week preaching his preference for a multi-city format for the Euro 2020 championship.
If his idea grows legs, it could kick the Celtic nations’ bid out of the running. Ireland, Scotland and Wales have officially expressed an interest in hosting the tournament and so far, only face competition from Turkey and Georgia.
If Istanbul is awarded the 2020 Olympic Games, Turkey will be out of the race leaving Ireland’s bid in pole position to win. Of course, there is time for other countries to come into the picture but, as it stands, a Celtic claim would have to be ahead of a volatile Georgian plan.
In London, the FA are making noises about Wembley hosting the final. This could translate into an official English bid though the spiralling cost of the London Olympics is bound to shoot down any appetite among the public for another major event. England will play host to the World Athletics Championships, the cricket World Cup and the Rugby World Cup in the coming years.
FA chairman David Bernstein was busy wining and dining Platini this week, and he expressed a desire for London to host the semi-finals and the final if the Frenchman’s vision become reality.
“UEFA want to hold the semi-finals and the final on the same ground, or in the same city and I think we would be on their shortlist – but there would be some strong competition.”
The English chief also claimed Turkey would be favourite to host the tournament if their Olympic bid falters, pouring cold water on the idea of a Celtic success that would see Dublin’s Aviva Stadium among the venues.
The tournament would essentially revert to its original format from 1960 to 1976 when a European-wide qualifying competition produced four teams contesting the semi-finals, a play-off and the final all in the same country.
Of course, if Platini’s plan is adopted, our cosy Celtic co-op could splinter as Cardiff, Edinburgh, and Dublin vie for one of the host city titles. Our recent Europa League final success would certainly work in our favour but, just as it did in 2009, our footballing hopes could be ruined by the hands of a Frenchman.