Double blow for Wales as showpiece bids lost
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