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GAA to row in behind FAI’s Euros bid as Croke Park chiefs set to make headquarters available

GAA stadium director Peter McKenna. Photo: Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE


The joint Ireland/UK bid to host the Euro 2028 soccer championships can expect broad GAA support if it gets the green light.

Government support came from Cabinet yesterday and while Central Council would have to give ultimate approval there are strong indications that it will be forthcoming when the time comes.

Croke Park is listed among 14 stadia on the two islands that are part of a preliminary bid which is being lodged this week. Casement Park in Belfast, which has yet to be redeveloped, is also one of the 14.

If successful, up to seven games in the competition could be staged between Croke Park and the Aviva Stadium.

“It’s very early days yet and obviously Central Council would have to consider it and make a decision but as part of this preliminary bid, we’ve been supportive,” said GAA stadium director Peter McKenna.

There’s a feeling in GAA circles that with the State subvention through Covid, amounting to over €50m between 2020 and 2021, and the obvious economic benefits there would be in drawing a major tournament like it, it would be impossible not to be supportive.

Euro 2028 would likely be played in June though there are some suggestions that it could run a little earlier.

The GAA championship programme has been subject to fluctuation and by then it may have found a different slot again but the only potential clash at that stage of the summer would be Leinster hurling and football finals. All-Ireland quarter-finals are now into an early July slot.

McKenna disputed suggestions yesterday that Croke Park would have to undergo a significant upgrade to be ready for Euro 2028 if the bid was successful, suggesting that any changes would be around LED lighting and segregation.

“No more than a concert, the stadium would be handed over to the organisers for the duration. Upgrading is ongoing in Croke Park and we believe we have one of the best venues in the continent,” he said, pointing to Billboard’s recent approval of the venue for the Garth Brooks concerts.

Hill 16 would likely require seating similar to what was in place for soccer internationals played there between 2007 and 2010 which could bring the capacity back to around 76,000.

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