Football: Scotland given route to host tournaments

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The Independent Online
SCOTLAND'S CHANCES of hosting World Cup matches may be slim but international competition could be heading north of the border.

With the revamped Hampden Park gaining five star status - and the 2002 European Cup final - Glasgow is currently the only city in Europe to have three football stadiums with a capacity of more than 50,000.

Allan MacDonald, the Celtic chief executive, yesterday suggested that the England 2006 World Cup bid team should use the city as "a temporary extension of England" and utilise Hampden, Parkhead and Ibrox if they are granted the right to host the competition by Fifa, the world's governing body.

Spokesmen for the England 2006 campaign and the Scottish Football Association agreed that it is highly unlikely that Glasgow will be needed. The SFA's Andy Mitchell believes a more likely option could be to act as a host for the European Under-21 Championship. Football's European governing body, Uefa confirmed that Scotland satisfied all criteria required to act as host - providing they qualify.

"When people talk about Scotland staging major competitions, they think of World Cups and European Championships," he said.

"But there are other competitions like the European Under-21 championship which could be held here and there are always other possibilities as Uefa looks to ease a crowded fixture list."

When England's World Cup bid was conceived, Scotland and Wales were mentioned as possible co-hosts. However, bid spokesman Dominic Hayes said the question had never been seriously raised.

"Scotland is a geographical area of Great Britain but our bid is an English one and we feel we have all the stadiums we need to be successful."

Despite this rejection, the SFA remain firmly behind the English bid and believe they could benefit indirectly if they win the nod from Fifa above rivals South Africa and Germany.

"There would be huge benefits for Scotland if England were to get the World Cup.

"Hopefully, some competing countries would decide to base themselves here and play a couple of warm-up matches."