Rams to host international tournament?

Last updated : 29 September 2005 By The Rambler
The FA can today confirm that it is bidding to host the 2007 UEFA Under-21 Championship in England.

The tournament would be played from 10-24 June at eight stadia across the Midlands, with the final at the magnificent new 90,000-capacity Wembley Stadium.

The proposed venues, from which a shortlist would be made, are:

East Midlands:

Pride Park, Derby County FC (33,597)

Walkers Stadium, Leicester City FC (32,500)

City Ground, Nottingham Forest FC (30,602)

Meadow Lane, Notts County FC (20,300)

West Midlands:

Ricoh Stadium, Coventry City FC (32,500)

Molineux, Wolverhampton Wanderers (29,400)

Britannia Stadium, Stoke City FC (28,218)

The Hawthorns, West Bromwich Albion FC (28,003)

Final – London:

Wembley Stadium (90,000)

FA Chairman Geoff Thompson said: “The FA will provide UEFA with the finest stadia, facilities, infrastructure and commitment to ensure this tournament is the most successful in its history. Staging the Final at Wembley will be an historic opportunity for The FA and UEFA to firmly give this tournament a major platform as a global football event.”

Chief Executive Brian Barwick believes England offers “an unrivalled ability to deliver the smooth running of a UEFA tournament. Football is the national game in this country. The media, fans and The FA would enthusiastically welcome this event to England and provide an enjoyable and memorable experience for everyone involved, whatever part they play.”

England Head Coach Sven-Göran Eriksson is also fully behind the bid: “It would fantastic to host the championship in England. There is a special atmosphere at matches in this country. I hope that UEFA gives the tournament to England so that all of the players can enjoy a special tournament, taking home memories of how the fans welcomed them and how good the stadiums and facilities are.”

Under-21s coach Peter Taylor said: “Travelling around the country I have been overwhelmed by the passion for Under-21s football. No other country in Europe comes close. We have received incredible backing whatever we play, and that enthusiasm would make for a colourful and exciting championship. It would be a massive boost to play in front of sell-out home crowds, and I’m sure the tournament would be a huge success.”

The other candidate countries are Czech Republic, France, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and Turkey. A decision will be made by the UEFA Executive Committee on 15 December.

The 2007 edition will be the first championship under UEFA’s new format, in which host countries are selected in advance and qualify automatically for the eight-team finals. To date, national associations have been invited to bid once the finalist teams are known.

England has a proven track record of hosting major UEFA tournaments. This year the North West was the stage for the highly successful UEFA WOMEN’S EURO 2005, which showcased the best of the continent’s women players in front of a record cumulative crowd of over 115,000.

In 2001, around 30,000 fans watched England’s Semi-Final against France at the UEFA Under-16 Championship in the North East, as well as the Final between France and Spain.

Euro 96 was the first European Championship to feature 16 teams, and brought fans from all over the continent together in a true festival of football. The total attendance of 1,279,000 averaged at over 41,000.

England were crowned European Under-21 champions in 1982 and 1984 under Dave Sexton.