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good news Ireland and Britain to be confirmed as co-hosts for Euro 2028

Absence of rival bid ahead of Wednesday cut-off means April announcement on cards

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The Aviva Stadium: Set to host Euro 2028 fixtures if Britain and Ireland bid is successful. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

The Aviva Stadium: Set to host Euro 2028 fixtures if Britain and Ireland bid is successful. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

The Aviva Stadium: Set to host Euro 2028 fixtures if Britain and Ireland bid is successful. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

The path has cleared for the Britain and Ireland bid to host the 2028 European Championships with the absence of a rival bid meaning the tournament is set to come to these shores.

With Italy concentrated on the 2032 finals and Turkey apparently unwilling to throw their hat into the ring ahead of Wednesday’s deadline, UEFA will have just one option on the table and it will meet their criteria.

UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin was keen for the five associations involved to divert their focus from the 2030 World Cup, where they would have gone up against Spain and Portugal for the European vote, and instead focus on the 2028 Euros which is expected to increase in size from 24 teams to 32.

This means that Croke Park would be needed along with the Aviva Stadium for the hosting of matches. It’s unclear what the stadium situation is north of the border given that Windsor Park will not meet requirements and the Casement Park redevelopment remains up in the air.

Automatic qualification is not on the cards for the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales as assigning five slots to the co-hosts would never be accepted by the rest of the UEFA membership.

UEFA will formally announce the Britain and Ireland bid as the winner next month but guarantees from the respective governments on security, tax, marketing and other headings will be required before the year is out.

The Cabinet will today give official approval to the Irish role in the bid.

Tourism Minister Catherine Martin and Sports Minister Jack Chambers will bring a memo to Cabinet outlining Ireland’s plans to be part of the cross-border event.

Ministers will be told there is a potential for up to 150,000 fans from outside Ireland or UK to come here to attend and this could mean €600m spent in the Irish economy.

Wembley will likely stage the semi-finals and final. FAI CEO Jonathan Hill did not rule out a Dublin quarter-final last month but the full details do not need to be ironed out at this remove.

Meanwhile, the FAI are hopeful that Saturday’s international friendly with Belgium will sell out as ticket sales have reached the 48,000 mark.

And the lower-profile meeting with Lithuania three days later looks set to beat projections with almost 33,000 tickets already sold for that encounter.

Ireland fans voted with their feet when stadiums reopened last autumn by coming out to support Stephen Kenny’s side, a factor that strengthened the manager’s hand when it came to board ruminations over his new contract.

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Record season ticket sales (close to 18,500) for the six home games in 2022 backed up that point.

The enthusiasm has spilled over into general admission purchases for the Aviva Stadium double-header that kicks off the international year.

World number one-ranked Belgium are leaving any players with more than 50 caps behind for their trip to Dublin, but the absence of Kevin De Bruyne and Co has not affected the Irish audience. It’s now anticipated that the turnout for the Saturday evening (5.0) encounter will fill the Dublin 4 venue.

Lithuania was always likely to attract a smaller crowd, but early sales suggest the attendance could top the 40,000 mark.

Preston midfielder Alan Browne says that public support suggests that the Kenny era is headed in the right direction.

“It’s massive, it looks like we’ve turned a corner, every credit to the manager and getting the fans back onside with us,” he said.

“Hopefully they’re taking to the new brand of football and the way that we’re trying to do things and things are looking good for us.

“It’s always important to have fans on our side because they’re the ones going through the gate to pay the money.

“I think credit to the manager, he stuck to his guns, he stuck to what he wanted us to do and it is a long process as you probably know. He came under a lot of criticism at first but it starting to look up now,” added Browne.

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