Today is decision day on whether Ireland will be able to retain the staging of four games in this summer’s rescheduled Euro 2020 Finals.

UEFA’s extended deadline for confirmation on what plans are in place to allow spectators to attend games in each of the host cities runs out this morning and it is unlikely that the FAI and other stakeholders will be able to give any realistic hope that fans will be allowed into the ground as has been consistently the call from Europe.

There are other issues in other countries but they do seem to have been able to carve out hopes for limited fans with England still hoping for a full stadium for the final in July at Wembley.

What UEFA needs is an outline leading towards a best-case scenario of stadia accommodating 25 per cent of capacity.

There was no indication in the announcement on easing of restrictions last week that this was even remotely possible until the latter part of the summer.

It seems highly unlikely that an enclosed gathering of more than 12,000 fans would be permitted, and even in that context, the mandatory quarantine that would apply to fans travelling from Poland, Sweden and Slovakia would be another barrier.

With the Republic of Ireland failing to qualify that also removes any sense that it would be worth pushing a decision out further due to public demand.

The logistics of hosting such a major tournament are incredibly complex and a Stop/Go date is essential.

Nobody wants to take the games away from Dublin but that choice could be made as early as today.

Last week we wondered that if the requirement is to have only a limited number of fans then could Windsor Park in Belfast not be on standby as a potential alternative with minimal disruption for the players and officials involved.

It would be a marker of the cooperation that will be needed for the proposed joint bid to host the FIFA World Cup in 2030 and it would keep the games on the island of Ireland.

In terms of protecting our reputation as a country ready, able, strong and flexible enough to host major events it would be a winning alternative on a number of levels while giving us the best possible chance of still hosting in Dublin, should circumstances permit?

Is it too late to consider? Is it too politically sensitive? We will know soon enough.

 

Sport for Business Partners