ENGLAND looks set to be handed at least four more Euro 2020 games – with Uefa braced for Dublin to effectively pull out of hosting on Wednesday.
And that would hand Gareth Southgate and his Three Lions the prospect of an extra match on home soil this summer, although NOT at Wembley.
Uefa’s deadline for the 12 scheduled venues to confirm they are able to stage games with crowds is close of business on Wednesday.
The Irish capital is believed by senior Uefa figures to be the most likely city to be unable to give Euro chiefs the guarantees they have sought, leaving the Aviva set to be stripped of its games.
And if so, it is now expected that the four games due to be played in Ireland will be switched to England, as the FA is already in advanced planning for seven games at Wembley.
It has been suggested that the £1billion Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, together with the number of training grounds and top-class hotels around London, might be the preferred second option.
But police are unlikely to want two Euros matches in the city on the same day.
And that would be the case on the current schedule with Sweden due to meet Slovakia – for now in Dublin – on June 18, a few hours before England and Scotland kick off at Wembley.
That would make Manchester the easier alternative.
Uefa sources had suggested Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium was viewed as easier to retro-fit to Uefa tournament standards than Old Trafford in the short time-frame available after the end of the domestic season.
But City are committed to digging out the current Etihad pitch down to its foundations and laying a new completely surface.
That means the stadium is effectively out of commission for the entire summer while the new turf and roots bed down for next term.
Dublin being replaced by an English stadium would, though, be a massive boost for Southgate, with his side currently due to play their last-16 game in Ireland if they win their initial group.
There are also question marks over both Munich and Bilbao, amid ongoing Covid concerns, although officials at Uefa headquarters in Nyon expect both the German and Spanish cities to eventually be able to meet the demands.
And Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has now cleared the way for the turnstiles at Hampden Park to be opened as well, despite health and safety concerns.
Uefa’s steering group of national associations is due to meet on Thursday in the wake of the reports from the 12 cities.
The earliest final decisions will then be made is Friday, although that is likely to only be the case if all 12 cities are available or Dublin is a lone casualty.
If any other cities are unable to give the pledges at this stage, it is likely Uefa would then put off the final call until its next executive committee meeting on April 19, giving those nations extra time to meet the pre-conditions.
But there are also concerns over whether travelling fans will be permitted in various countries as well as other issues including media regulations.
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