Euro 2028: Why Bigger Isn't Always Better When It Comes To Stadiums

England's shortlist of stadiums has caused debate
14:00, 22 Sep 2022

The United Kingdom and Ireland’s joint-bid to host Euro 2028 is gathering pace and now we have found out the shortlist of the English stadiums that will host matches. It’s a list that has caused quite the debate with the likes of Anfield, the Emirates Stadium, Stamford Bridge and Elland Road all absent.

Only six English arenas will be chosen as part of the joint-bid with Wembley a certainty. Other candidates include Old Trafford, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the Etihad and Everton’s new ground. But bigger isn’t always necessarily better when it comes to hosting sporting events. 

Of course, with all the interest surrounding the tournament, thousands of fans will want to pack into grounds and UEFA will want to maximise their revenue from ticket sales. But there is no guarantee that every game will sell out, especially given there are now likely to be 32 teams taking part.


At Euro 96, the biggest and best stadiums in the country were chosen and it was seen as a hugely successful tournament, but was it? Only 19,000 fans turned up at St James’ Park to see Bulgaria beat Romania and only 21,000 saw the 3-3 thriller between Russia and Czech Republic at Anfield. 

Slightly smaller grounds would guarantee sell-outs, even for the less popular games. That’s before we even go into the history of some of the grounds that have not even been mentioned. Sure, it’s great to use some modern stadiums, but a European Championship match at Hillsborough or Elland Road would be spectacular. 

This debate of capacity came up again this summer, as England hosted the women’s Euros. Manchester City’s academy stadium was chosen ahead of the Etihad which brought criticism from even The Sportsman's finest writers. The theory was that the Euros deserved to be played in the same stadiums the men do, even if the attendances are smaller. We were wrong. 


The games chosen at the Etihad Campus and Leigh Sports Village were not the most glamorous, but the atmosphere generated by the sell-out crowds was perfect. The smaller venues made for a vibrant backdrop, rather than a sea of empty seats. Meanwhile, Brighton played host to two memorable England wins and the 31,800 capacity meant there was a clamour for tickets and as a result more excitement about the matches.

It’s something that we will see another example of as England host the Rugby League World Cup in October. In 2013, grounds such as The Shay in Halifax and Spotland in Rochdale were used. 476,000 tickets were sold in total and the tournament was a huge success, played in front of close to sell out attendances. 

This time around, more tickets are expected to be sold than the figure from nine years ago, but the decision to host a semi-final at the Emirates in London could backfire. The north of the country is the sport's heartland and nobody wants to see a half full football stadium for one of rugby league’s biggest matches. 

Euro 2028, if the UK and Ireland win the bid to host it, will be a major milestone for the nations. It’s a chance to show off our best stadiums and love for the game. But when looking at some of the shortlisted stadiums, perhaps we are losing some of our footballing heritage and shooting ourselves in the foot. Stadium MK or Villa Park? Surely there is only one winner. 

*18+ | BeGambleAware

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