England ready to host extra Euro 2020 matches but ‘not lobbying for anything’

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UEFA Euro 2020, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By Jamie Gardner, PA Chief Sports Reporter

England stand ready to host extra matches at Euro 2020 but the Football Association’s chief executive Mark Bullingham has said: “We are 100 per cent not lobbying for anything.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has spoken positively about the possibility of England staging more matches if one or more of the current 12 host cities cannot.

The Government’s road map makes provisions on sports venues potentially being up at far greater than 25 per cent capacity from June 21st, if a series of tests are met on the easing of coronavirus restrictions and depending on the success of pilot events.

Chief executive Mark Bullingham insists the FA is not lobbying to hold extra matches at Euro 2020 (Football Association)

And FA chief Bullingham said there was the possibility of England staging more games, but that other countries were in the same position.

“My understanding is that UEFA is very keen on hosting in 12 countries,” he said.

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“If for any reason UEFA and/or the country in question decided they didn’t want to host it and came to us, I think we would be in the same position as a number of other countries in wanting to help UEFA and know that we’ve got the stadia and the Government support to do it.

“I’m not assuming there will be extra games for England and we are 100 per cent not lobbying for anything.

“If UEFA did decide or one country decided not to proceed, we would be one of a number of countries that UEFA would consider for those extra games.”

By April 7th host cities must make effectively a minimum guarantee of venue capacity to UEFA, ranging from 100 per cent to behind closed doors.

At that point UEFA may withdraw hosting rights from certain cities, but there is nothing pre-agreed that rights would be withdrawn if a venue cannot guarantee to allow in any spectators.

The cities will then be asked again on April 28th for an updated forecast on capacity limits, which UEFA hopes will at the very least maintain the previous forecast or improve on it, if conditions in the country concerned look better.

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Glasgow and Dublin are reported to be at risk of losing matches, because there is currently less clarity over how many — if any — spectators might be able to attend matches.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Friday: “Nobody wants Scotland to ‘lose the Euros’ and I don’t think we should be in the position now of thinking that’s the case.

“We are absolutely intent on having the Euros, having Hampden as one of the host stadiums of the Euros.”

The budget set aside £2.8million this week to assist in the feasibility study to look at a UK and Ireland bid for the 2030 World Cup.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hopes Hampden Park, pictured, will be able to stage Euro 2020 matches (Jeff Holmes/PA)

Bullingham welcomed the funding but cautioned there was a long way to go.

“Clearly we wouldn’t be doing this (study) if we weren’t serious about the project, but we haven’t made a final decision yet,” he said.

On whether there was any point bidding if there was a joint bid from Spain and Portugal, or one from China, he said: “Clearly if Spain and Portugal were to bid they would have a good bid, if we decide to bid we would feel we would have a good bid as well.

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“It’s not clear at this point whether China would be allowed to bid and whether FIFA would effectively change the regulations to enable them to bid.”

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