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Spain beat Ireland to the punch in race for prize Euro 2012 base

GIOVANNI Trapattoni's Ireland team could end up being neighbours of European champions - and Euro 2012 favourites - Spain in Poland next summer.

An FAI delegation spent some time in Poland assessing possible venues for the team's base during the finals, and it's thought the FAI team are due in Ukraine to inspect some possible destinations this week, but Ireland - like almost all of the 16 competing teams - are likely to snub what are deemed to be inferior facilities in Ukraine and head for Poland.

The draw for the finals will not be made for another 11 days but some countries have already decided on their base for their stay at Euro 2012 - England coach Fabio Capello has already confirmed the Polish city of Krakow as their base for the duration, even if the team end up playing group games in Donetsk, 900 miles away.

Polish media today reported that the FAI delegation inspected three possible base camps: Wladyslawowo, Gniewino and Gdynia, all in northern Poland and close to the port city of Gdansk, which is one of the country's four match venues.

The reports indicated that the Irish visitors were most impressed with the training and hotel facilities in the small village of Gniewino, but plans to base Ireland there could be complicated by the fact that Spain have already chosen that as their team camp for the tournament.

The city of Gdynia, which is effectively a suburb of Gdansk, is another option for the FAI, but the poor-quality training facilities attached to the camp in Wladyslawowo would appear to rule that out.

Germany, Spain and Switzerland have already decided to base themselves in the region surrounding the stadium in Gdansk, so Ireland will have some big-name players for company if the FAI pick that region for their finals base.

Some countries will wait until after the draw for the finals is made on Friday week before choosing their base camp, but with facilities at some of the venues deemed to be sub-par, some teams may decide to simply pick a venue with a top-quality training ground and hotel, and base the players there, no matter where the team end up playing the games, as the English FA have done.

Holland and Italy have already chosen a base around Krakow, close to England's camp.

Portugal have indicated that they will choose a base in Poland even if their group games are in Ukraine, and so far no team has committed to a stay in Ukraine.

"A lot of countries are waiting to make a decision on the team base, so this month will see a lot of visits, it will be an interesting period," said tournament official Michal Brandt.

Gdansk is part of a three-city conurbation with Gdynia and Sopot, and if Ireland are drawn to play some of their group games in the stadium in Gdansk, it would be a massive boost to Irish supporters as the area is well-served with accommodation, with 8,000 hotel rooms, camping and B&B accommodation.

Irish fans are already dreading a draw that would see Trapattoni's team play their games in Ukraine, with outlandish prices being quoted even for hostel accommodation. Around the time of the first group game in Kyiv, one hostel in the Ukrainian capital is looking for €150 a night, for a bed in a 12-person dorm.

Joxer may have to sleep in his camper van after all.