Germany have again raced ahead of England in their preparations for a major international tournament, having all but decided on a base in Poland for next summer's European Championship.
England's search for a base of their own is under way, with several investigative trips having already been undertaken, and Poland emerging as the favoured country. The FA's understanding is that it must select a top three of favoured bases from a list of 21 possible locations issued by organisers, who will then allocate them.
But Germany are understood to be 90 per cent decided on their own Polish base, having quickly established that facilities in Ukraine – which is co-hosting the tournament – are simply not up to the required standard. By opting for Poland now, Joachim Löw's side risk having to fly across the border for each of their three group matches if they are drawn in one of the Ukraine-centred groups. But Germany are quite prepared to do so, given the standard of accommodation and facilities in Ukraine, which the German FA has concluded are no better than youth-team standard.
It is unclear which base the Germans have selected from the list of 21, though the five which may be favoured could be the Hotel Krol Kazimier at Pulawy, on the outskirts of Warsaw; Hotel Urocysk between Warsaw and Wroclaw; Hotel Piramida east of Wroclaw; Krakow's Radisson Blu; and the Turowka hotel and spa, east of Wroclaw. These are all located relatively near the Polish border, minimising the distance nations will need to travel if they are selected in a Ukraine-based group.
Germany's early preparations mean they will get the pick of these locations and a scramble for the other best Polish locations is likely, even though qualified countries could find themselves flying nearly 1,000 miles to play games. Nations who settle on a hotel in Gdansk, in the north west of Poland, would have to fly 930 miles to a game if the draw meant they had to play in Donetsk – the south-eastern Ukrainian city which is arguably the least desirable place to be based in.
Of the Ukrainian cities, only Kiev seems anywhere near the levels Fabio Capello would be looking for. Uefa admitted last month that there were delays on the completion of stadiums in Kiev and Elviv.