Business Plus

Focus On The Bigger Picture During Euros

While hosting the 2028 finals will bring in plenty of revenue from travelling fans, the tournament will also bring other benefits to Ireland and Northern Ireland

- ROB HARTNETT Rob Hartnett is the founder of Sport for Business, a publishing, events and networking business at the heart of the commercial world of Irish sport. Visit sportforbu­ for daily news and analysis.

There was not much by way of jeopardy, but still plenty of celebratio­n when the announceme­nt came that Ireland, North and South, together with England, Scotland and Wales, will be hosting the Euro 2028 football tournament. It will be the largest sporting event that the island has ever staged, with six games likely to take place at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, including a quarter final, and five more at the redevelope­d Casement Park stadium in Belfast. That would mean 300,000 fans for Dublin and 170,000 for Belfast over the course of the tournament.

There is of course also the need to ‘get it done’ with regard to Casement Park, where no ball of any code has been kicked for the best part of a decade. I hosted an event at the national football stadium at Windsor Park in September, where the IFA CEO Patrick Nelson and the Ulster GAA CEO Brian McAvoy both exuded confidence that the project would see diggers going in during the early months of 2024.

Research undertaken by British tourism executives in 2019 claimed that the average spend of those visiting Britain to go to a Premier League football match was €1,050. This was 30% more than spend by the average UK visitor, so despite suggestion­s to the contrary, football fans will be spending when they come.

How many of those 470,000 fans will be travelling in to support their own country will depend in large part on whether it is a Germany or a North Macedonia that is drawn to play matches in Ireland. There is also the question of whether the two Irish teams will qualify.

On the former we can have no control. On the latter, all five host countries will compete in qualifying rounds and two places will be set aside for hosts that do not make it via that route. If three hosts fall in qualifying then a world of pain might yet open up, but let’s not go there for now.

So let us imagine a tournament where both Irish teams are playing at home for at least three of the games and taking up 70% of the tickets for those games. That means 176,000 of the fans will be travelling only domestical­ly. That does not negate their spending but it is reduced, let’s say by two thirds.

Let us imagine that half of the tickets for the other games are taken up by home fans. That would still leave the potential for 175,000 inbound football fans intent on having a good time and dropping €175m in traveller spending over the course of a five-week tournament.

But it is always about more than the money dropped on a wild excursion. Hosting major events like the Aer Lingus College Football Classic opens up Ireland as a global destinatio­n. We know more about Japan from their hosting football, rugby and Olympic Games than via any other means, and knowledge makes us more likely to travel and trade with countries.

UEFA has announced a legacy fund that will see c.€10m being shared across the island of Ireland. That is significan­t in the revenue calculatio­ns of the FAI and the IFA, and the additional benefits of ‘football fever’ through jersey sales, match tickets for qualifying games, and increased interest in the domestic game.

There have been mutterings that the money spent on winning the tournament would have been better spent on building new stands at grounds around the country. Sometimes, though, you miss the big picture by being too focused on looking at the small one.

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 ?? ?? Six matches are heading for the Aviva in the 2028 Euros
Six matches are heading for the Aviva in the 2028 Euros

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