The likely-doomed England-led FIFA World Cup 2030 bid will be discussed with MPs on Tuesday by UK Sport and BBC chiefs.
MPs from across all parties will examine the £2.8m cost to fund a feasibility study which is being soaked up by British taxpayers for the England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland co-host bid.
The meeting of the House of Commons cross-party digital, culture, media and sport (DCMS) committee takes place as the Daily Mail revealed on Saturday that UEFA favours Spain-Portugal as its preferred option to go forward to a FIFA bidding vote in 2024.
MPs are set to discuss the UK and Ireland’s likely-doomed bid to host the 2030 World Cup
It is understood that a UK-Ireland bid for Euro 2028 is favoured by the power-brokers in Switzerland instead, who would fully support such a move – if England and its partners were agreeable.
Already UEFA has made new provisions in its recently released bidding process for the Euros in 2028, which permits multi-country bids as long as such a tender was ‘geographically compact’.
England has already declared an interest in hosting the European finals in seven years, but how it would respond to co-hosting with its fellow home countries is open to debate.
While losing out on a World Cup will come as a considerable blow to The FA, its smaller association partners in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Northern Ireland would certainly embrace the Euros, if it were presented.
Spain-Portugal is UEFA’s preferred option to put ahead for a FIFA bidding vote in 2024
Informal, high-level discussions have already taken place between a number of national stakeholders and Europe’s governing football body, about its preference for a Spain-Portugal bid.
A British and Irish tender on behalf of UEFA is not considered something that the organisations believes has a realistic chance of success in front of FIFA’s 211 members, who will vote on the issue in 2024.
2030 is the next opportunity for a European country to host a World Cup, and it believes that a Spain-Portugal bid would be overwhelmingly favoured by world football ahead of an England-led campaign – partly due to the shocking scenes at the Euro 2020 final at Wembley when thousands of drunk and ticketless fans broke into the stadium.
Sources in the Irish Government have already received word of the Spain-Portugal plan, and Tuesday’s committee meeting at the Commons will determine if MPs here have also received that information.
MPs across all parties will examine £2.8million cost to fund a feasibility study, which is being soaked up by British taxpayers
A Dublin Government insider said: ‘The World Cup bid is now very much a secondary position because UEFA prefer Spain and Portugal, and that word appears to be very definite here.’
UEFA is incredibly sensitive that the situation doesn’t develop into a row, at a time when it is at war with FIFA over the world football body’s proposals for a World Cup every two years.
‘If England agreed to accept a Euros with its other partners, then problem solved peacefully – UEFA will support that process,’ a UEFA insider revealed.
‘Until then the situation of feasibility will continue to evolve and that will be a good thing for the home countries as it prepares them for what is now a likely successful Euro 2028 bid instead.’
Tuesday’s DCMS committee hearing will examine the bidding process from a financial and cost perspective, with witnesses called will include director of BBC Sport Barbara Slater and UK Sport’s COO Simon Morton.
The most likely outcome from such hearings is that MPs will back The FA and its stakeholders to continue with its investigations, which are well underway, along with its partner nations.
It is understood that UEFA would support an England-Ireland bid for Euro 2028 instead
Despite the preferred option of a Spain-Portugal for UEFA the UK-Irish group have nothing to lose by staying within the process – except for the expense of the study which is sure to be raised by some MPs.
What happens at the select committee on Tuesday will be key, if questions are raised about the almost £3m cost and how much traction that issue gains.
Witnesses from UK Sport, UK External Affairs, British Council and the BBC may be asked about the Spain-Portugal option, but it’s most likely they will only speak on the official status of the current process.
Also at the committee hearing, FIFA’s bidding process will also be outlined to the committee.
One of the questions asked of The FA’s head of media relations was whether a Euro 2028 tournament instead of the World Cup two years later is an ‘acceptable alternative’
England has already declared an interest in hosting the European finals in seven years’ time
While UEFA is not in favour of large amounts of countries co-hosting a European Championship again, following the logistical and operational nightmares that came with Euro 2020 it has paved the way for multi-country bids.
It announced the bidding process for ‘potential UEFA EURO 2028 hosts’ last week, where it left the door open ‘in case of more than two joint host associations’.
Any multi-nation co-hosting of future Euros will be permitted ‘providing that the bidding countries are geographically compact’ – a criteria clearly achieved by a British-Irish bid.
UEFA and The FA have not responded to questions about the plan.
The Football Association of Ireland ‘remain committed to the ongoing feasibility study in regard to a potential bid for the 2030 World Cup’.