Wembley is set to be given extra Euro 2020 games amid delight at Uefa over the Football Association’s pivotal role in breaking up the European Super League, Telegraph Sport can reveal.
Dublin is expected to be dropped as one of the 12 city hosts within the next 24 hours, having been so far unable to meet the European governing body’s deadline for guaranteeing fans.
England’s national stadium already has the most games for the tournament, and is not expected to take on all the extra games. However, sources close to Uefa say there is a wave of goodwill towards Mark Bullingham, the FA’s chief executive, for his behind-the-scenes work in torpedoing a rebellion by Europe’s richest clubs this week.
The Telegraph understands Bullingham played a key role in liaising with both the Duke of Cambridge and the Prime Minister, whose joint interventions played a major part in undermining efforts by England’s so-called “big six” to win over fans.
“He was a quietly determined yet very effective operator behind the scenes” confirmed one Whitehall source in response to the concerted English effort to derail the ESL.
Senior figures in European football also confirmed there was “huge goodwill towards England” having forced the collapse of the competition.
England may not get all the extra games if the departure of Dublin is confirmed by Friday, as there may be willingness at Uefa to also reward countries like Russia for guaranteeing high capacities.
A final plan for the delayed Euro 2020 competition is moving apace, with local officials in the Spanish city of Bilbao on Wednesday night confirming they had been dropped by Uefa. The city’s local organisers threatened to sue the European soccer body over its “unilateral” decision drop the city as a host. It had been scheduled to host Spain’s matches in Group E group against Poland, Sweden and Slovakia.
Dublin, however, has been less determined to guarantee involvement, with Ireland missing out on qualification. It had been due to host three Group E matches between Poland, Slovakia and Sweden at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium from June 14, followed by a last-16 tie on June 29.
Nine of the 12 host cities have already given assurances over a minimum capacity for crowds, with Wembley confirming that 25 per cent – around 22,500 fans – will be able to attend the initial three group stage matches and round-of-16 fixture that will be held there.
It is also hoped more fans will be able to attend the semi-finals and final. Hampden Park will also have up to 25 per cent of the venue’s capacity (around 13,000 fans) available to fans for its four games.
Munich, one of the other cities in doubt, is understood to be set for approval by Saturday.