The preamble is the decision of the European football governing body to break with tradition and spread the 2020 finals around 13 countries and cities across the continent - 'a EURO for Europe' they are calling it - rather than confine them to one or two host nations. In total, 13 packages of matches are available: 12 including three group games and one in the last 16 or quarter-finals, plus another for the semi-final and final. A stadium capacity of 70,000 is required for the semi-final and final, 60,000 for quarter finals and 50,000 for last 16 and group matches, apart from a couple of exceptions at 30,000. Associations can bid for two different packages, and for two different stadia/cities, even if they can be successful with only one.
While the full list of cities which met the September 12 deadline for expressions of interest will remain a closely guarded secret until Michel Platini, the president of UEFA, announces them tomorrow lunchtime, a delegation from the Scottish Football Association has travelled to Croatia in the hope that Hampden will be considered for a package of last 16 and group matches. This is despite the national stadium having only a quarter of the 80 required hospitality/broadcast boxes demanded in the bid documents. Those countries not inclined to withdraw gracefully from the process will be invited to prepare a bid dossier for April, ahead of the chosen venues being appointed this time next year.
"We have submitted a letter before the deadline and we have said we would still like to keep our hat in the ring," said Stewart Regan, the SFA chief executive, recently. "However, based on the bid dossier that was sent out we are non-compliant. The deadline for actual bids is in April and we're seeking information back from them on whether we should still proceed."
While UEFA insist such matters will be conducted in a calculated, dispassionate manner, the situation is complicated yet further by claims of promises made by Platini to the Turkish FA. Specifically, in an incident which has echoes of Sepp Blatter's alleged support for South Africa hosting the 2006 World Cup, Emre Alkin, the general secretary of the Turkish Football Federation, has alleged that, in January, the Frenchman explicitly promised the soon-to-be enlarged Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul the package for the semi-finals and finals. "It is all about the promises and Mr Platini in a face -to-face conversation promised us — and I underline that, promised us — that if we don't get the Olympic Games we will surely have the final package," Alkin said.
Platini's apparent support for Turkey originates from sympathy over their loss of Euro 2016 by seven votes to six to his native France, but was complicated rather by the Turkish government's decision to change tack and bid to the IOC for the summer Olympics in the same year, They subsequently lost to Tokyo in that race. In the midst of this process, alternative bids for the tournament as a whole were first encouraged from Scotland/Republic of Ireland and then Georgia/Azerbaijan, before the 'EURO for Europe' plan was unveiled.
Turkey are bidding only for the semi-finals and finals, with reports that both England (Wembley) and Germany (Allianz Arena, Munich) are likely to leave them to it and settle only for one of the group stage/quarter finals packages instead. In addition, Belgrade, Budapest, Sofia, Prague, Basle, Athens, Stockholm, Oslo, Amsterdam, St Petersburg, Jerusalem, Baku, Minsk, Lisbon, Porto, Athens, Helsinki, Brussels, Tbilisi, Zagreb and even Skopje are all thought to be in the running.
If the SFA are to be unsuccessful, they are hopeful of hosting the 2017 women's European Championships instead.