Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Delaney is confident in Republic's Euro plan

Battle stations: John Delaney is ready to face local opponents

FAI chief executive John Delaney has suggested that the Republic of Ireland could end up in a battle with regional rivals Scotland and Wales to host part of Euro 2020, but is confident that their government-backed bid can prevail.

The finishing touches are being put to a proposal that will be submitted at the end of this month with Uefa deciding in September which 13 cities will host the novelty tournament that will be spread across the continent.

Ireland is looking to stage a package with three group games and a round-of-16 encounter and it is expected that the smaller nations in the group of 32 that initially expressed interest will aim for that bundle as opposed to competing for the latter rounds where Turkey are favourites to host the semis and final.

The other big guns will aim for quarter-final-dominated packages.

Delaney suspects that Uefa will split it regionally.

"Firstly, you've got to meet stringent technical criteria," he said.

"But I think it would be geography-political. I think it will go north, south, east and west. I think England, naturally, with Wembley will have a great opportunity at least to the quarter-finals, if not a semi-final and final."

His Scottish counterpart Stewart Regan had previously suggested that a British and Irish hub could reap dividends for the applicants from this part of the world but it is highly unlikely all four entrants would be successful.

The finer points of the bid become crucial if it comes down to a straight fight between the Republic, Scotland and Wales with details such as the second terminal in Dublin Airport taking on significance.

"It's very helpful for the segregation of supporters," said Delaney. "There was a lot of criticism of the second terminal at one stage but I am not complaining as it helps our bid."

The Republic would host two home games in Dublin if they qualified for the tournament although that will be a job in itself given the age profile of Martin O'Neill's squad.

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