Sport Soccer

Saturday 14 December 2019

Euro 2020 host bid gathers pace as O’Neill open to Croke Park use

CROKE PARK could yet host the 2020 European championships after GAA president Liam O'Neill refused to rule out the possibility of the venue being made available.

Ireland, Scotland and Wales made a formal expression of interest to host the 2020 tournament earlier this week and, along with Lansdowne Road, Croke Park is required if any formal bid from the three countries is to be viable.

However, O'Neill revealed that the GAA had received no formal approach from the FAI.

"It's only an expression of interest, as far as I know," said O'Neill. "I've heard nothing else about it -- we'll deal with it as it comes up. It might not happen, and until it lands on our desk, our only focus is Sunday and on getting our games going."

The power to open up Croke Park to other sports lies with Central Council since 2010. If other GAA grounds were required for the bid, officials would have to secure a change to Rule 42 passed by Congress. Any change in that rule would also mean extensive facelifts for other GAA venues as UEFA require all-seater stadiums with a capacity of at least 30,000, while they would have to meet a number of other conditions.

And despite the obvious challenge from Ireland's European soccer campaign and the London Olympics in the coming months, O'Neill expressed confidence that GAA attendances will hold up.

"Despite the doom and gloom of last year, our championship attendances held up pretty well and that was a surprise to many people. So a plus or minus of a few thousand isn't going to make or break us.

"It does even itself out but you can't predict, because if counties like Longford and Laois, with lesser populations than say Dublin, Kildare and Meath, advance in the championship, naturally you're going to have lower attendances.

"I am relaxed about it because we know we have a great product, I know we have great players and I know we have great games and we're happy that people will go and enjoy them, our hope is that they would."

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