June 15 – UEFA looks poised to agree €1.3 million in compensation to Bilbao for the late removal of Euro 2020 hosting from the Basque city’s San Mamés stadium to Seville. The decision was taken once it became clear Bilbao would not allow spectators at matches.
As part of the compensation package for the loss of hosting rights, Bilbao will also be awarded a major UEFA club competitions final with Spanish press reporting that they will be awarded the 2024 Europa League final and the 2025 Women’s Champions League final.
When the hosting rights were removed Bilbao had immediately objected threatened legal action over what it said was a breach of contract. Initially it looked as though the Bilbao games would be moved to a different country but Spanish president Luis Rubiales made the case to UEFA that hosting was important for Spanish football and Seville stepping in to fill the gap.
Mayor of Bilbao Juan Mari Aburto was quoted in Marca as saying: “We said that we were going to defend the interests of Bilbao from the moment UEFA broke the contract unilaterally with the Bilbao city council.
“We have worked in two directions, on the one hand for financial compensation and to take into account that Bilbao is an attractive city for holding new events. We can say with great satisfaction that Uefa will compensate Bilbao for €1.3m and that we will host two relevant and impactful finals in 2024 and 2025 in the city…”
For all Aburto’s strident claims on agreed compensation, the final decision has still to be made by UEFA’s standing committees. UEFA has made no public comment on settlement.
Settling with Bilbao raises questions over whether there is the potential for UEFA compensation to Dublin that also was stripped of hosting for refusing to allow spectators to attend matches.
UEFA’s relationship with the Irish is more complex with the Irish FA (FAI) having had to seek support last year following a £60 million debt crisis and the scandal over the extravagant expenditure of its former chief executive John Delaney. Eventually the Irish government agreed a £2.5 million bail out for the FAI with UEFA lending its own support. The Euro hosting would have been a significant step to helping with the debt relief.
In April UEFA allocated €500,000 to the FAI for the redevelopment of Dalymount Park to a new 6,000 capacity stadium. That stadium is expected to open 2025.
It seems unlikely UEFA would agree further direct funding support for the FAI or a compensation package for Dublin considering its other commitments to Irish football.
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