Euro 2028: Costs and benefits of Ireland bid scrutinised ‘in great detail’ after Minister questioned financial basis

Paschal Donohoe had questioned whether estimated value of events would be reached

The cost of Ireland’s bid to co-host the Euro 2028 – previously put at between €65 million and €93 million – has been “scrutinised in great detail”, with a full-cost benefit analysis carried out, the Department of Tourism and Sport has insisted.

Internal Government documents show how Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe had cast doubt over the financial models underpinning the Euro 2028 bid last April.

Turkey’s withdrawal of their bid to host the 2028 European Championships means the joint UK and Ireland bid should be rubber-stamped by Uefa next Tuesday.

The Aviva Stadium in Dublin is in line to host six games, including a quarter-final, though questions remain about Casement Park in Belfast – put forward as part of Northern Ireland’s bid to be included in the tournament – amid debate on how the cost of its renovation will be funded.


Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that hosting the 2028 European Championships will be “great for football” and “a good thing” for UK-Ireland relations.

He also signalled that the Republic could help with the Casement Park costs, telling the Dáil: “We’re in discussions with the Ulster GAA Council and also the British government as to how we can make a contribution to the cost of building that new stadium and I believe we should.”

Minister for Tourism and Sport Catherine Martin told Cabinet colleagues in April that the gross added value to the economy would be in the region of €189 million.

A cost of just under €65 million was estimated but when inflation and contingency funds were accounted for, it was determined the figure could rise to just under €93 million.

Mr Donohoe questioned a key assumption that there would be zero “displacement” effect on the tourist trade – that intending visitors who could not come to the country due to the tournament would come at another time.

He suggested that there is “a plausible scenario whereby the investment that will go into this project ... may not come close to realising its estimated gross added value”.

A spokeswoman for Mr Donohoe did not respond directly on Wednesday night when asked if he still has such concerns, instead directing the query to Ms Martin’s department.

In a statement the Department of Tourism and Sport said: “All costs have been scrutinised in great detail and a full cost/benefit analysis has been carried out.

“Costs will continue to be reviewed, if the bid proves successful and as planning progresses.”

The department said it is confident that the bid by the five football associations across Ireland and Britain will be approved by Uefa next week.

The statement said the redevelopment of Casement Park is “a matter for the Northern Ireland authorities and the British government” and it would be “premature” to speculate on the scale of any assistance from the Republic.

Nationalist and Alliance politicians welcomed the news that the joint UK-Irish bid for Euro 2028 looks certain to succeed.

However, rebuilding Casement Park with a “blank cheque” from public money to host the Euro 2028 football tournament has been fiercely opposed by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Meanwhile, questions remain about the qualification process for host nations.

Football Association of Ireland chief executive Jonathan Hill suggested last month that all five nations – England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – would have to qualify, although at least two of them would be guaranteed places at the 24-team competition.

Former Republic of Ireland footballer Kevin Kilbane reacted to the news saying “there is a bit of envy” of the Irish players that may get to play at a big tournament in their own country.

He also said: “Looking at all aspects of development within Irish football, hosting Euro 2028 can only help us. I am sure there’s a positive knock-on effect for our economy but in terms of development of young players, age nine or 10 years old, seeing a Euros in Dublin and Belfast, I think it can only be beneficial to them.”

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times

Seanín Graham

Seanín Graham

Seanín Graham is Northern Correspondent of The Irish Times

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent