Dou­ble blow for Wales as show­piece bids lost

Western Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Press As­so­ci­a­tion re­porter news­desk@waleson­line.co.uk

IT WAS a day of dou­ble dis­ap­point­ment for Wales yes­ter­day as Cardiff missed out on host­ing Euro 2020 matches and Swansea lost its bid to be­come UK City of Cul­ture 2021.

Uefa chiefs con­firmed that Wem­b­ley had been cho­sen over Cardiff’s Prin­ci­pal­ity Sta­dium and Stockholm’s Friends Arena to host matches dur­ing the tour­na­ment.

Brussels will not be a host city due to con­cerns about its Euro-sta­dium build­ing, with con­struc­tion yet to get un­der way.

The Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion of Wales yes­ter­day said it was “ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed”.

“The FAW will now fully con­cen­trate its ef­forts on en­sur­ing that the Wales na­tional team has the very best op­por­tu­nity to qual­ify for and par­tic­i­pate at Uefa Euro 2020”, it said.

Cardiff coun­cil leader Huw Thomas added: “Cardiff has one of the best sta­di­ums in the world, a match­day ex­pe­ri­ence sec­ond to none, and wel­com­ing res­i­dents, pas­sion­ate about their sport. The tour­na­ment is poorer with­out us.”

Hours later, Swansea missed out on be­ing named the UK City of Cul­ture 2021 as Coven­try claimed the ti­tle.

Swansea, Pais­ley, Stoke-on-Trent, and Sun­der­land were all in the run­ning for the ti­tle, which is cred­ited with at­tract­ing ma­jor in­vest­ment.

Swansea Coun­cil leader Rob Ste­wart said he was “to­tally gut­ted”, es­pe­cially for the team which had worked on the bid.

Swansea missed out on be­ing named the UK City of Cul­ture 2021 last night as it was an­nounced that Coven­try would claim the ti­tle.

Swansea, Pais­ley, Stoke-on-Trent, and Sun­der­land were all in the run­ning for the ti­tle – which is cred­ited with at­tract­ing ma­jor in­vest­ment to former win­ners.

The an­nounce­ment was made in Hull dur­ing the BBC’s The One Show, as the cur­rent UK City of Cul­ture’s year-long cel­e­bra­tion nears an end.

The com­pe­ti­tion is held ev­ery four years, with Derry-Lon­don­derry named as the first win­ner in 2013.

The an­nounce­ment at the end of The One Show put paid to Swansea’s third at­tempt at the City of Cul­ture, and an­other huge ef­fort by city lead­ers, artists and the pub­lic.

Speak­ing from Hull, where the win­ner was re­vealed, Swansea Coun­cil leader Rob Ste­wart said he was “to­tally gut­ted”, es­pe­cially for the team which had worked so hard to get across the line.

He sin­gled out head of cul­tural ser­vices Tracey McNulty, her col­league Frances Jenkins, and coun­cil­lor Robert Fran­cis-Davies, cabi­net mem­ber for cul­ture, tourism and ma­jor projects, for spe­cial praise.

Mr Ste­wart was part of a fi­nal 20-minute Swansea pitch yes­ter­day af­ter­noon be­fore a panel of nine judges and a group of of­fi­cials from the UK’s De­part­ment for Dig­i­tal, Cul­ture, Me­dia and Sport. A 76-minute grilling fol­lowed.

“It went re­ally well,” said Mr Ste­wart. “We had two young peo­ple from Swansea with us, and they gave a view of why cul­ture can change a young person’s op­por­tu­ni­ties. We did our­selves credit.

“Some­times you can do ev­ery­thing right but still lose. We have demon­strated our am­bi­tion.”

And he pledged an­nounce­ments would be made in the com­ing weeks that would give peo­ple a lift.

Former coun­cil leader Chris Hol­ley, who threw Swansea’s hat in the City of Cul­ture ring the first time round, said: “We have tried our best. It’s just un­for­tu­nate the cards didn’t fall right. You’ve got to try these things.”

Ad­dress­ing the as­sem­bled group from stage at The Hyst, Mr Robert Fran­cis-Davies, cabi­net mem­ber for cul­ture, tourism and ma­jor projects, said that the bid had united the city, and that cul­ture would re­main wo­ven into the fab­ric of it.

Fran­cis-Davies said: “We had a strong bid, with cred­i­ble part­ner­ships and am­bi­tions. We’re dis­ap­pointed not to have won the ti­tle, but the re­la­tion­ships and part­ner­ships de­vel­oped through the course of the bid are still in­tact and will con­tinue to grow.

“The legacy of this cre­ative part­ner­ship will be more in­vest­ment, more in­ter­est in our city and a stronger lo­cal econ­omy, gen­er­at­ing jobs in tourism and the cre­ative in­dus­tries.

“We’re still in­vest­ing in cul­ture and will con­tinue to be a pioneer area for cul­ture tack­ling poverty. Swansea peo­ple have a lot to look for­ward to, from the Killers at the Lib­erty Sta­dium next year to the con­struc­tion of the new, dig­i­tal in­door arena and dig­i­tal square in the city cen­tre that will give op­por­tu­ni­ties for events, arts com­mis­sions and com­mu­nity ac­tiv­i­ties.

“The num­ber of ac­tive artists who sup­ported our bid shows we’re still a city of cul­ture, so we’ll re­turn to our cul­tural plan and build arts and cre­ativ­ity, com­mu­nity health, well­be­ing, fun and play into our re­gen­er­a­tion strate­gies, plan­ning poli­cies and com­mu­ni­ties.

“We may have lost a com­ple­tion, but we haven’t lost our am­bi­tion.

“The £1.3bn City Deal for the Swansea Bay City Re­gion will also see un­prece­dented in­vest­ment in world class dig­i­tal in­fra­struc­ture across Swansea and South West Wales in com­ing years, giv­ing en­ter­pris­ing tal­ent in areas like the cre­ative in­dus­tries a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity to flour­ish and shine.”

> Sup­port­ers of the Swansea bid react at the Hyst as it was an­nounced Coven­try had won City of Cul­ture 2021 live on last night’s The One Show

> Peo­ple in Hull, 2017 City of Cul­ture, cel­e­brate Coven­try win­ning the bid

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