Uefa set to back expansion plan for Euro 2016 as SFA sacrifices chance to host tournament

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Uefa is set to rubber-stamp an expansion of the European Championship finals from 16 to 24 teams this week, a move that will limit the number of countries able to host the tournament. The decision, to be taken by the executive committee at a meeting in Bordeaux today and tomorrow, follows a proposal by the Scottish Football Association and Football Association of Ireland last year.

It will take effect from the 2016 finals and has drawn virtually unanimous support from the 53 member countries, but Scottish FA chief executive Gordon Smith admits it will be a double-edged sword. Scotland would not have the required facilities to stage an expanded championship.

Smith said: "I think the expansion will be better for the game – more teams will have the chance of qualifying and the excitement of the groups will go on for longer. It is disappointing in that it means we will not be able to stage the tournament in the future, and we recognise that will be the case.

"It was a trade-off between trying to stage it or open up the qualification process and we have decided to look at something that helps everybody."

Smith said the proposal had not been an attempt merely to make it easier for Scotland to qualify for a major finals. He added: "It will make it easier but it will make it easier for other countries such as England who failed to qualify for Euro 2008. We didn't do it specifically for that purpose."

Uefa is also expected to announce that Poland and Ukraine will be kept as Euro 2012 joint hosts but will be warned they have to keep to strict construction deadlines. The leaders of European football's ruling body will also authorise the budget for a special investigation unit to target match-fixing and corruption in football.

Comments