Euro 2028: Northern Ireland determined to host games should joint bid be successful

The Irish FA wants Northern Ireland to host matches at Euro 2028 should the UK and the Republic of Ireland’s joint bid to stage the tournament be successful.

There are currently no stadiums in NI that meet the competition’s minimum capacity requirement of 30,000.

It would appear their hopes hinge on the redevelopment of Casement Park.

Planning permission for the 34,500-capacity stadium in west Belfast was granted in July, with a desired completion date of summer 2024.

However the project will be the subject of a judicial review in March following a challenge by a local residents’ group.

Irish FA chief executive Patrick Nelson did not address the stadium by name when all five governing bodies revealed their bid on Monday morning, but repeated his desire to see Northern Ireland play a full part in hosting the tournament.

"We know that our stadium, the national football stadium at Windsor Park, doesn't meet the requisite capacity for the Euros but we also understand that being part of the bid brings a massive range of benefits to Northern Ireland. We want to be a major part in this. We're going to play a full part, and we're going to work with our partners to be able to be in a position to hold matches here in Northern Ireland."

Irish FA chief executive Patrick Nelson

Nelson would not be drawn on whether or not Casement Park was the only viable option, reiterating only Northern Ireland’s determination to not just be “along for the ride”.

The long awaited redevelopment of the west Belfast stadium, home of Antrim GAA, was given the green light by Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon last year.

However a number of residents living in the area surrounding the site are opposed to the scale of the estimated £110m project and have submitted a legal bid which could potentially delay or scupper the desired completion date of summer 2024.

“We speak to the GAA on a regular basis. I probably speak to [Ulster GAA chief] Brian McAvoy every two weeks if not every week,” he said.

“Nothing is ruled in or ruled out at this point other than the fact that we definitely want to host games in Northern Ireland.

“We know we’ve got to work with partners – primarily government partners really – to make sure we’ve got a stadium that is capable of doing that.

“We have sub-regional funding which hopefully is still in the pipeline, still in the mix, and we’ll be working with the government in Northern Ireland to make sure that comes through.”

Original article published 07.02.2022 on the BBC Sport website

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