Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football European

Windsor Park Super Cup dream could come true

IFA set to bid for European showpiece

By Steven Beacom

Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Inter Milan, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea or Arsenal.

One of those superpowers of world football will be rocking up at the new Windsor Park to play in a showpiece match in a few years time, if the big hitters at the Irish Football Association have their way.

The Belfast Telegraph can reveal that the IFA is making moves to bring the European Super Cup final to Northern Ireland – and it is confident that its bid for the glamour fixture will prove to be a success.

The Super Cup is a one-off game played every season in August between the Champions League winners and Europa League winners.

Originally it was a match up of the European Cup winners and Cup Winners Cup victors and then, when the latter tournament was abolished, the Uefa Cup winners were involved.

In the 1970s, 80s and most of the 90s it was a two-legged affair played at the home grounds of each side, but since 1998 up until 2012, the fixture took place in Monaco.

Uefa then decided it wanted to go on tour around Europe.

In 2013, Prague hosted the match and earlier this year it was played at Cardiff City's stadium. Tbilisi in Georgia has the honour in 2015 and within a matter of weeks Uefa is expected to confirm where the game will be played in 2016.

Windsor Park will be in the running from 2017 onwards.

The IFA is determined to create the same buzz in Belfast that was felt in the Welsh capital when Cristiano Ronaldo, his superstar Madrid mates and the 10 times European Cup winners beat Sevilla 2-0 in front of a capacity crowd.

Over the past decade just about every major footballing force has played in the game from Manchester United to Milan and Bayern to Barca.

Irish FA president Jim Shaw told us: "The European Super Cup final is a hugely prestigious match involving two of the best teams in Europe.

"It is our intention to submit an application to Uefa for the game to be played at Windsor Park when all the redevelopment work at the stadium is completed.

"We feel we would have a good chance of bringing the game to Northern Ireland."

If you think the excitement of Northern Ireland's shock Euro 2016 qualifier victory over Hungary on Sunday has gone to Jim's head, think again.

There is every chance that he will be proved right and that Northern Ireland will host a match which is watched by a worldwide television audience.

Back in December 2012, Fifa vice-president Jim Boyce told the Belfast Telegraph that given the redevelopment of Windsor the IFA should seriously consider bidding to stage the European Super Cup match.

And now it is going for it...

Boyce is, of course, a highly influential figure in Uefa circles and will, no doubt, do all he can to help the IFA's cause in the corridors of power.

Uefa would welcome an application from the IFA, stating that the European Super Cup is a game which should be played in stadiums unable to host other European finals and that its intention is to take the fixture to 'every corner of Europe'.

Windsor Park fits the bill on both.

The new 18,000 capacity would be too small to bid for Champions League or Europa League deciders. It also stops Northern Ireland from being one of the hosts for the Euro 2020 finals, which will be played in venues across the continent.

In recent times, some outstanding sporting events have come to Northern Ireland such as the Irish Open at Royal Portrush Golf Club, the Giro d'Italia cycling race and the World Police and Fire Games.

In years to come the Irish Open will be played at Royal County Down in Newcastle (2015) and the Lough Erne Resort in Enniskillen (2017) and of course The Open and all its glory is expected to be in Portrush in 2019.

Lionel Messi arriving on our doorstep would be pretty spectacular too.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph