The UK and Ireland’s bid to host Euro 2028 has been formally approved, UEFA has announced.
Ten stadia across the five nations will host the matches in five years’ time, with analysts projecting a three billion euro (£2.6bn) boost to the host nation economies on the back of the tournament.
The bid was unopposed after Turkey withdrew to focus on a joint bid for the 2032 finals alongside Italy, and it was given the official seal of approval by UEFA’s executive committee on Tuesday morning.
Wembley is set to host the final – and potentially both semi-finals – with the other English venues included in April’s final bid submission being the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the Etihad Stadium, Villa Park, St James’ Park and Everton’s new ground at Bramley-Moore Dock.
Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, Hampden Park in Glasgow, Dublin’s Aviva Stadium and a redeveloped Casement Park in Belfast will also host matches.
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer welcomed the news, saying: “I’m thrilled we’ve secured UEFA EURO 2028. It will be the biggest sporting event ever jointly hosted in the UK and Ireland.
“We will put on a brilliant tournament with fans at its heart. We will warmly welcome fans from across Europe to our islands’ shores and give people memories that will last a lifetime.
“On top of that, the tournament is expected to deliver up to £2.6 billion of socio-economic benefit across the host nations, creating jobs and opportunities.”
On a visit to England’s training ground, St George’s Park, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “I grew up with Euro 96 being one of the most amazing memories of my childhood. And we have a chance to do that all over again for lots more people, just like we did last year with the Lionesses.
“We host tournaments better than anyone else. It’s going to be a massive boost for the economy.
“We’re going to welcome millions of people to the country, and it’s going to inspire a whole new generation. So it’s great news and it was great to be here with the team and (manager) Gareth (Southgate) to celebrate.”
The news was met with excitement across the host nations, with Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf saying: “Football is Scotland’s national game and a powerful force for good in communities right across the country.
“It is this combination which underpinned the Scottish Government’s support for the successful joint bid.
“Hosting the Euros in Scotland will provide a range of opportunities, not only through the economic benefits of visiting fans but through a strong legacy programme that will help grow a more inclusive and diverse game right across the country.”
Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales, said on X, formerly known as Twitter: “Fantastic to hear that Wales will host @UEFA #EURO2028 matches following the successful joint UK and Ireland bid. Together, we’ll deliver an unforgettable and spectacular tournament – showcasing the best Cymru has to offer.”
“I also want to ensure there are benefits for football clubs all over the country & I look forward to engaging with the FAI on how we can achieve that.”
Irish FA chief executive Patrick Nelson added: “We will make fans very welcome here in Northern Ireland and our role in this tournament will remind the world what a great city Belfast is.”
All five nations are expected to go through qualification for the tournament, with UEFA understood to be reserving two host nation places for any of the teams which do not make it on merit.
The UK-Ireland bid would have been the overwhelming favourite to host Euro 2028 even if Turkey had remained in the race. Senior UEFA sources have repeatedly stressed the importance of hosting another European Championship in a major market – following on from Euro 2024 in Germany – as essential to boosting UEFA’s finances in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
There will still be issues for the bid team to resolve over the next five years however – with agreement still to be reached on who will fund the redevelopment of Casement Park.
Plans for a 34,000 stadium have been delayed by legal challenges and are further complicated by the lack of a functioning Executive at Stormont.
Costs have also risen from an original estimate of £77.5million to more than £100m. The GAA is part-funding the project but has not reached an agreement with Stormont over where the remainder will come from.
The UK and Ireland associations first announced they were focusing on a bid for Euro 2028 in February last year.
It had been expected that they would bid for the centenary World Cup in 2030 but Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham admitted at the time there were “many areas of uncertainty” with doing so, leading to the switch in focus.