Premature to end NI involvement in bid for Euro 2028: Mike Nesbitt

It is too soon for Northern Ireland to rule itself out of a joint bid to host the Euro 2028 finals, UUP MLA Mike Nesbitt has said.

Mr Nesbitt was commenting after Stormont’s Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said that the lack of a functioning executive and budget in place means Northern Ireland cannot be part of the bid along with the other UK regions and the Republic of Ireland.

In a letter to other Stormont ministers, the DUP’s Mr Lyons cites the lack of stadiums with the required capacity to host matches as one of the main reasons.

The letter, which has been seen by the BBC, says work is continuing to finalise the cost/benefit assessment of NI hosting seven matches.

The Euros trophy

Estimates suggest than an investment of just over £100 million will bring a return of £217 million.

Mr Nesbitt said there is a precedent from the bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

“During a previous period when the Executive was down, the then Head of the Civil Service found a workaround, whereby the leaders of the Executive parties signed a commitment to confirm that if the Executive had been in place, it would back the finances necessary for the bid.

“This was accepted by the decision makers, although in the end the event was awarded to France.”

UUP MLA Mike Nesbitt

Mr Nesbitt added: “Given the hundreds of millions of pounds a successful bid could generate for the local economy, the Economy Minister must withdraw his claim and work collaboratively with the party leaders to progress the bid for the benefit of the people he was elected to serve.”

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