It’s official. The UK and Ireland are hosting Euro 2028.
Mark your calendar. The dream is on.
Well, not quite.
What was thought to be a swift, speedy, streamlined process of awarding the competition to the UK and Ireland as the sole bidders has been complicated by late bids from Russia and Turkey, which will significantly prolong the process – potentially up until September.
It is never clever to assume anything with Uefa, but we must assume that it is a foregone conclusion Turkey will be declined for a sixth time and surely now that Russia’s roubles are as toxic as the chemical weapons they use to assassinate political opponents, even Uefa will think twice before accepting an under the table envelope.
Our bid also still has to contend with our own prime minister seemingly wishing it away and awarding it to Ukraine instead. When a prime minister speaks it is usually (or used to be) noteworthy, with individual words scrutinised for clues to their meaning and future intentions. However, as Johnson needs Sue Gray to inform him whether he attended a party or ten, we can again assume he is clueless about the policies his own government are pursuing and frankly, ignore him.
"It is an opportunity for the UK government to extend the hand of friendship and cooperation, ensuring the competition reflects the best of our values and unique cultures."
Euro 2028 will be a great sporting occasion, especially for Scotland. With genuinely world class players in our team and exciting young prospects coming through, the Tartan Army have a team to be proud of. To have it on home soil will make it even more special. It is also an opportunity for the UK government to extend the hand of friendship and cooperation, ensuring the competition reflects the best of our values and unique cultures. If that sounds a bit airy then the UK government could partner with the SFA and Scottish government to help fund the much mooted redevelopment of Hampden, putting fans first and ensuring a tangible sporting legacy from Euro 2028. This should also be viewed as an opportunity to improve transport links to Hampden; any fan who has endured the snakelike queue for the train on a dreich night will heartily support that.
Indeed, for all the talk of levelling up there is a sporting imbalance within the UK, as both Scotland and England have multiple European standard stadiums, in stark contrast to Northern Ireland. Gordon Lyons, the DUP economy minister, has raised the point that Northern Ireland does not have the 30,000 seat capacity required to host Euro games, with Windsor Park limited to 18,500. The UK government should help redevelop Casement Park, providing a new stadium that will meet international standards for the future and ensuring every country has a stake in the Euros.
"With the right ideas, energy and boldness Euro 2028 can be a celebration of the different cultures across the British Isles."
With the right ideas, energy and boldness Euro 2028 can be a celebration of the different cultures across the British Isles. The UK government can demonstrate it is a government for all by engaging with the devolved governments on an equal footing to deliver tangible benefits for people across the UK, such as bigger and better national stadiums and improved transport links. It will also show the benefits of membership of the UK: with opportunity and diversity on our doorsteps. Away from all the politics, the eyes of the world will be upon us. The only thing better than watching Scotland win at Hampden will be watching Scotland win at a redeveloped Hampden. A new stadium to match the ambition and swagger of a new era.