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IFA will support UK and Ireland World Cup 2030 bid despite no matches in Northern Ireland

Windsor Park will not be part of any bid
Windsor Park will not be part of any bid

By Paul Ferguson

Big-hearted Irish FA chiefs are ready to play a major role in helping land the 2030 World Cup finals on these shores - even though Northern Ireland will be unable to host a match.

Representatives from the English, Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish and the Republic football associations met in Bucharest last week for further discussions on whether to move forward with a joint UK and Ireland bid.

London, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Cardiff and Dublin are all expected to be put forward as host cities, but as a minimum capacity for staging a World Cup finals match is 40,000, Belfast would be discounted, with Windsor Park, the Kingspan Stadium and the proposed new Casement Park all falling under the criteria.

However, Irish FA President David Martin believes if the bid was given the green light, then they would have a duty to fully support it.

He says: "It could be an opportunity to give our supporters the chance to attend a World Cup finals on our doorstep."

A feasibility study, ordered by the home nations, gave optimistic results on the staging of the World Cup finals in just over 10 years time.

The FA in England are the driving force behind the proposal, but no formal decision has been made on whether a bid will be made.

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FIFA have put the application process back two years, with a decision on who will host the 2030 World Cup finals to be made in 2024.

This will allow all the associations time to develop their strategy, allowing them to put forward the strongest bid possible.

The home nations will need to ensure they are the only European bid with Spain and Portugal also understood to be considering a joint bid. Any European bid would face challenges from Asia and a South American bid built around the centenary of the first World Cup finals in Uruguay.

While Northern Ireland wouldn't be able to host a match, especially as there are no current plans to vastly upgrade stadia here, they could possibly play host to countries looking for training bases.

But the Irish FA accept a fully functional National Training Centre would need to be built in order to be considered by World Cup teams. Constructing a National Training Centre is part of the Irish FA's strategy and they hope FIFA's delay on the 2030 World Cup bid will allow them to finally deliver on this.

The beleaguered Football Association of Ireland are hoping to be able to put forward the Aviva Stadium and Croke Park as venues, however, they would need permission from the GAA for the north Dublin stadium.

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