independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Platini's expansion plans

IRELAND remain interested in the bidding process for Euro 2020, but Michel Platini is pressing ahead with plans for half a dozen countries to host the tournament instead of the traditional one or two.

The UEFA president believes that it will be too difficult to retain the current hosting format when the competition is expanded to 24 teams in 2016. France are equipped to host that renewal, but he envisages difficulties in 2020.

A Turkish bid was being encouraged by European football's governing body, yet that will not materialise if Istanbul is awarded that year's Olympic games.

Scotland, Wales and Ireland have tentatively put forward a three-way bid, yet Platini is leaning towards his expanded model according to Germany's UEFA executive committee member Theo Zwanziger.

According to Zwanziger, the plan foresees up to 12 countries hosting games, with the countries chosen as seeded nations based on their UEFA ranking at the time and whether they have qualified for the competition.

That format would favour the biggest established nations who would have an opportunity to play group stage games on their home turf. A decision will be made early next year.

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