UEFA opposed to three-nation bids for Euros

NYON, Switzerland - European soccer's governing body UEFA said on Thursday it was opposed to three-nation bids for the expanded 2016 European championships. After a meeting of its executive committee, UEFA said that it would permit solo bids and joint bids by two neighbouring national associations. But it said bids involving three or more countries would be considered "under exceptional circumstances" only. Media reports in Britain last week said Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had held preliminary talks about a joint bid. UEFA decided at its last executive committee meeting in September to increase the size of the championships, starting with the 2016 edition, from 16 to 24 teams. General secretary David Taylor told a news conference the full bidding regulations were still to be finalised but that potential bidders should be prepared to make at least nine stadiums available. Euro 2008, jointly hosted by Austria and Switzerland, used eight stadiums. "It is our view that nine stadiums will be expected for 2016, possibly with some additional back-up stadiums," Taylor said. UEFA's competitions director Giorgio Marchetti said bidders would be expected to provide stadiums with capacities ranging between 30,000 to 50,000 spectators, including "at least a couple" holding 50,000 or more. "We think having nine stadiums is the right balance between the needs of the organisation, the tournament and the host countries," Marchetti added. BID DOSSIERS UEFA said it would formally invite member associations to express bidding interests in an initial phase running from December 15 to March 9, 2009. Bid dossiers will then have to be completed by February 2010 with a final decision due to be announced in May 2010. Taylor said UEFA's executive committee had also received positive news about the preparations for Euro 2012 in Ukraine and Poland. Following repeated warnings from UEFA over a lack of urgency in the two countries' efforts, Taylor said the tournament was now finally into an operational phase with the schedule for the qualifying stage due to be announced at UEFA's next executive committee meeting in January. "The key to the tournament is still the two stadiums in Kiev and Warsaw and particularly in Kiev we are monitoring the situation very closely," the UEFA general secretary said. "We understand that construction work has finally begun there although the final capacity of the ground, which we believe should be at least 50,000, is still a major subject. "So there are ongoing issues and we don't underestimate the challenge but even allowing for the current financial uncertainties we have had positive reports about the progress being made." UEFA also announced on Thursday that it had reached a financial settlement with disgruntled broadcasters over an embarrassing television blackout during Germany's Euro 2008 semi-final win over Turkey. "We can't go into the figures for reasons of commercial confidence, but the main outcome is that the slate is wiped clean, we do not have any legal cases and a settlement has been agreed by all concerned." Several broadcasters, including Germany's state broadcasting company, had demanded compensation from UEFA after a power cut in Vienna and a failure in the back-up supply repeatedly interrupted coverage of the match played in the Swiss city of Basel.