The UEFA executive committee are today considering a 40-page report whether Poland and Ukraine will be ready to stage the championships in four years’ time. This will cover stadia, infrastructure etc.
The general view is that they will still get the go ahead but there are many with reservations.
It is interesting that at this time UEFA are also rubber-stamping a decision to expand the tournament to a 24 team event from 2016. While on the face of it these are two separate issues they are strongly linked if certain decisions go a particular way.
Personally I think 24 teams will have a detrimental effect long-term. It means only half of countries will fail to qualify in 15 months of qualifying and in that group you’ll only be eliminating teams of the standard of – no disrespect – the Faroe Islands, Andorra and San Marino.
The tournaments will be unnecessarily longer with complicated qualifying from the groups with best third placed teams and means that fewer countries will have the stadia and infrastructure to be able to host.
While part of me would like a Celtic bid to host 2012 sneak in through the back door, I think it would be a great shame if Poland and Ukraine were to miss out. We’ve seen the problems the FA and Premier League have had if decisions haven’t been thought through with the Tevez, Hammers/Blades compensation saga so I can see the Poles and Ukrainians consulting legal people if it’s taken away from them.
You have to deliver on your promises but if they go to 24 teams and Poland and Ukraine are unable to make 2012, they will have effectively spent billions of Euros for no reason. They simply won’t be able stage an event of that size in the future.
Sixteen teams works and until 2016 at least, it should stay that way. Postpone a 24 country event until 2020 because that will at least give some breathing space for Poland and Ukraine to do 2016 if they clearly can’t make the current deadline.
Spain are champions and haven’t held it since 1964. It seems the sensible move to give it to them now so everyone gets what they want.