On the 10th of October, 2023, UEFA made official what we had really known for some time: Euro 2028 would be jointly hosted by Ireland and the United Kingdom. The bidding process to host the Euros began in September 2021. There was joint-hosting interest at one stage from Portugal and Spain, various Scandinavian nations, and also Romania, Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia, plus a rather pointless and ineligible bid from Russia.
In the end, however, it seemed that only bids from Italy, Turkey and the British Isles would proceed, but then Italy decided to focus instead on a bid for the 2032 championships. Turkey did submit an official bid, but by the end of July 2023, Italy and Turkey seemed set on a joint bid, this becoming official at the start of October to leave the UK and Ireland unopposed as far as 2028 was concerned.
A few days later it was made official, with the UK and Ireland announced as hosts of the tournament after Germany 2024, and a joint Turko-Italian championships to follow that. So, we now know that Euro 2028 will take place in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England, but how will that work, and what stadia formed a central part of the bid and are set to host games at the Euros?
Prior to bids commencing UEFA outlined criteria that would need to be met by any potential host. Bids would need to feature 10 stadia, with one or more having a capacity of 60,000 or greater, one (and ideally two or more being 50,000+), four able to facilitate 40,000 fans, and three with capacities of at least 30,000.
One of the great strengths of bids involving England is that there are several incredible stadia that are already built, fully functional and proven. Scotland too has some excellent options, whilst the other nations all have national stadia that easily meet the required levels. Thanks to hosting large club games, European fixtures, international matches, Six Nations rugby games or some combination of the above, all of these stadia have demonstrated they are suitable for the big occasion, whilst police and other staff are also experienced at controlling and running such contests.
When it came to the UK/Ireland bid, the issue would not be finding, building or modernising venues to use, but rather deciding which would be chosen and which would have to miss out.
10 Venues for Euro 2028
The 10 confirmed stadia for the tournament are detailed below, in size order starting with the largest capacity. At present it is believed that Wembley will hold the final with Cardiff’s Principality Stadium set to host the first match. This will be the third time that Wembley will have held the final of a European Football Championship, after Euro 96 and Euro 2020. Games at Euro 2020 were also played in Scotland but this will be the first time any major tournament contests (aside from qualifiers) have been played in Wales, Ireland or Northern Ireland.
|Wembley||90,652||London||English National Team|
|Principality Stadium||73,952||Cardiff||National Stadium of Wales|
|Tottenham Hotspur Stadium||62,322||London||Tottenham Hotspur|
|Bramley-Moore Dock/Everton Stadium||52,679||Liverpool||Everton|
|St James’ Park||52,305||Newcastle||Newcastle United|
|Villa Park||52,190||Birmingham||Aston Villa|
|Hampden Park||52,032||Glasgow||Scottish National Team|
|Aviva Stadium||51,711||Dublin||Irish National Stadium|
|Casement Park||34,500||Belfast||Gaelic Games Main Stadium|
Note that capacity figures are based on the best current information and are likely to change. The Etihad in particular seems likely to have been expanded before 2028. Also note that the name for Everton’s stadium is not yet confirmed.
As you can see, the bid easily meets UEFA’s criteria, with all but one of the stadia hosting at least 50,000 and four holding in excess of 60,000. In addition many of these are modern, state-of-the-art stadia, with Spurs’ considered one of the best in the world. Everton’s new home is unfinished at present but is set to be spectacular with a wonderful location on the banks of the Mersey. The biggest question marks concern Casement Park, a key venue for Gaelic games but which has been closed for some time. Redevelopment is yet to start, but with 2028 some way away, that should not prove problematic.
Which Stadia Have Missed Out?
Many different clubs wanted to host games but, such was the depth of options, some had to miss out. In Scotland, Celtic Park and Rangers’ ground Ibrox hold around 60,000 and 50,000, respectively, whilst Murrayfield, traditionally a rugby venue, has a capacity of more than 67,000. However, Hampden seems the logical choice given only one Scottish host is really sensible. Choosing Celtic or Rangers over the other would have caused controversy either way, whilst there was no need to use the home of Scottish rugby when the home of Scottish football was available.
Decisions over which English venues to choose were possibly harder and the proponents of Arsenal’s Emirates, Liverpool’s Anfield and Man United’s home Old Trafford may feel aggrieved to miss out. Old Trafford holds over 75,000 but is outdated, with United fans talking of a crumbing building with a leaky roof and poor facilities.
The Emirates is fantastically modern but just not as modern as Spurs’ home, whilst Anfield is an iconic stadium but looks shabby and dated compared to Everton’s glistening new home. Other clubs, including Sunderland and Leeds United, expressed an interest but ultimately the UK just had so many wonderful venues that many were bound to be disappointed.
There was an argument that some smaller stadia would be needed for less appealing games. However, such is the love of football in the UK, and so strong are the transport links (most of the time!), that even supposedly minor games are likely to be able to sell out the many 50,000+ capacity stadiums that are being used.