Football

Casement Park could host five games in 2028 European Championships, six games in Dublin

The finished product. A new Casement Park could host five games at Euro 2028
The finished product. A new Casement Park could host five games at Euro 2028 The finished product. A new Casement Park could host five games at Euro 2028

CASEMENT Park will host five games of the Uefa European Championships in 2028 if it is built and if a joint bid to host the tournament by the UK and Ireland is successful.

The football associations of the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England are due to find out if their application to host the tournament is successful on October 10. If so then the island of Ireland will host 11 games with six in Dublin and the remainder at the dormant West Belfast venue, the former home of Antrim GAA.

Casement Park is being redeveloped as, first and foremost, a GAA venue but failing to have work completed in time for Euro 2028 would be a huge own goal. Hosting five international games in such a major competition would have massive benefits for Belfast. The games would be watched by millions around the world which would encourage investment and boost tourism while creating jobs and generating millions for the economy.

Deadline after deadline for work to start has been pushed back since the last Antrim game at Casement was played over a decade ago but Ulster GAA remain determined and optimistic that work will start early next year.

"Ulster GAA is continuing its work on various project work streams and looks forward to the prospect of the UK and Ireland bid being successful when Uefa makes it announcement on 10th October," said Ulster GAA's Stephen McGeehan.

"Our team is working hard and hopeful of starting on site at Casement Park in early 2024."

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While it hasn’t been confirmed by Uefa, it is understood that all five nations would enter into a qualifying phase for the tournament if their joint bid is successful.

However, it is likely that two places will be guaranteed for the hosts so if, for example, England, the Republic and Scotland qualify from their groups Northern Ireland and Wales would get the two ‘golden ticket’ places. If none of the host nations qualify successfully then the two places would go to the highest ranked of the five.

“That’s a decision for Uefa,” said FAI chief executive Jonathan Hill.

“Depending on whether we’re successful with our bid, which we’ll know on October 10, we will find out what the qualification process is. My guess would be for a tournament that may be hosted by five nations, all teams will be part of the qualification process.

“I think that it’s important from a commercial perspective, for example, that England are part of qualification.

“There are different ways of addressing it. I hope, and believe, that two teams will qualify automatically. It becomes part of the Uefa conversation as to how that works when all five teams go into the qualification process. I can’t go any further than that because it’s up to UEFA as to how that works.”

Qualification issues remain contingent on the bid being successful and, should it be, then Casement Park will play a very central role in staging it if work on turning it from a crumbling eyesore into a modern 34,500-capacity stadium is completed on time.

The redeveloped Casement Park will cost at least £110m. In May Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris indicated that the British Government was prepared to consider making a financial contribution to the project, if the bid by the UK and Ireland to host the Euro 2028 Championships was successful.

Read more:  Casement Park - the story so far