Uefa ratifies UK and Ireland as hosts of Euro 2028 tournament

Belfast is set to host its first major international football tournament following Uefa’s seal of approval for the UK and Ireland’s Euro 2028 bid.
A computer generated image of how the redeveloped Casement Park would look. Photo: Ulster GAAA computer generated image of how the redeveloped Casement Park would look. Photo: Ulster GAA
A computer generated image of how the redeveloped Casement Park would look. Photo: Ulster GAA

Casement Park in west Belfast is one of ten venues – including Wembley, Hampden Park and the Aviva in Dublin – selected for inclusion in the bid, despite having been derelict for several years.

The UK and Ireland bid was given a free run to host the tournament after Turkey withdrew from the process last week, with the formal announcement delivered by Uefa at a ceremony in Switzerland on Tuesday.

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However, a number of questions around the inclusion of Casement Park remain, including who will foot the bill for a project now well over budget.

Earlier this year, the GAA said the total cost of the project had risen to between “£112m and £140m – not including VAT,” up from an estimated £77.5m at the outset.

With a total of five home nations involved, it remains to be seen how many qualify for the finals through the formal qualifying process, and how many are likely to rely on a guaranteed place as a host nation.

At the same ceremony, Uefa also ratified a joint bid by Italy and Turkey to host the tournament in 2032.

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Following the official announcement, TUV councillor Ron McDowell said that if the UK Goverment pumps more cash into the Casement rebuilding project, then it must draft a clause that allows it to “claw back” money from the GAA’s profits on events at the new venue.

“The success of the Uefa Euro 2028 by Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic is something which will be welcomed by football fans across the British Isles and we look forward to the home nations putting on a great performance on one of the biggest sporting platforms in the world.

“That said, the decision to fund the redevelopment of Casement with a blank cheque from the taxpayer is wrong,” Cllr McDowell said.

“No more public money should go to a project which was ill conceived from the outset, running massively over budget and encountering significant opposition from local residents. The GAA is well able to finance the completion of the project.

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“Furthermore, it is worth noting that once built Casement will become a lucrative cash cow for the GAA. A little forward thinking by the powers that be would have resulted in a clause which allowed the public to claw back at least some of the cost of this project from profits generated by future events at Casement.

"Indeed, should the Secretary of State foolishly proceed with his suggestion to give the GAA ‘whatever it takes’ to finish the build then this provision should, at the very least, be built into the funding."