The announcement that the UK and Ireland would host Euro 2028 was, in the end, a mere formality. In spite of that, the formal confirmation felt significant, particularly here in Scotland. Although the country had the chance to host part of Euro 2020, this was disrupted by the pandemic. An opportunity to do this again felt appropriate; perhaps even deserved.

The timing is fortuitous, given the newfound enthusiasm surrounding the Scotland national football teams. The fact that we may be able to watch the men’s side compete in a major tournament on home soil once again is undeniably exciting. We should not, however, let this positive feeling hide an important question which needs to be asked: how can we make sure this tournament leaves a lasting, positive impact on our country?

I love football, and I look forward to watching Europe’s best grace the hallowed turfs of Hampden, but my main interest in last week’s announcement was to hear what the proposed legacies of the event for Glasgow, and Scotland, will be. As an academic, my research focuses on major sporting events and their social outcomes; examining the rhetorical claims and subjecting them to critical scrutiny.

We know that all events produce legacies, whether positive or negative, but studies suggest that more focus needs to be placed on strategic leveraging – in other words, investing to make things happen, rather than hoping for a post-event outcome that rarely materialises. For that reason, a conversation needs to begin immediately on how we can leverage Euro 2028 to maximise benefits for Scotland.

We need to remember that significant public investment has been committed to attract Euro 2028 matches to Glasgow. Public accountability demands that funding isn’t simply used to make Hampden Park look stunning while the eyes of the world are on the tournament, important though this is.

Instead, funding and delivery partners need to be laser-focused on how they can use the excitement generated by the tournament to deliver on policy-led ambitions related to sport, participation, wellbeing, diversity and the economy. The tournament’s legacy slogan is Football for All, Football for Good, Football for the Future. It is important that these fine words inform and influence decisions on investments, who is involved in planning and the assessment of the tournament’s success. While the event itself is important, it can’t be the sole focus, otherwise the money invested will quickly be forgotten about after the circus has left town.

The Scottish Government, the Scottish Football Association, Glasgow City Council and their partners need to agree what they want to achieve from this event, devise clear plans for how they will go about delivering on these priorities, and invest sufficient resources to enable those ambitions to be realised over a defined period. For a partnership like this to work, there needs to be clear governance arrangements and accountabilities built in from the outset; otherwise, mission drift is possible.

As a city, Glasgow is well versed in organising an event of this sort and maximising the benefits to the citizens of the city and, importantly, its profile. It has worked with UEFA for many years on several major football events and understands fully how to adhere to its strict technical requirements, while ensuring the unique assets of the city are showcased.

The city will benefit from some investment to improve Hampden Park and the opportunity to attract visitors from across Europe to sample its retail, hospitality, cultural and tourism offering. Extensive media coverage will focus eyeballs on the city, generating the valuable commodity of attention many similar cities crave. Football authorities will hope the so-called demonstration effect of watching football will translate into a new generation of boys and girls taking up the national sport from across Scotland’s increasingly diverse communities.

For these ambitions – and others – to be realised, a plan must be formulated sooner rather than later. Authorities should look closely at other major sporting events which have taken place in Glasgow over the past decade, including the 2014 Commonwealth Games and, more recently, the UCI Cycling World Championships. There are lessons to be learned both in terms of what has worked well and what has been less impactful. These events can act as a guidebook to ensure that the potential of this opportunity is fully realised.

Football can be a distraction for all of us. It can produce elation and deflation in equal measure. However, in looking to leverage this major sporting event to deliver on the tournament’s “Football for All, Football for Good and Football for the Future” ambition, it is crucial that organisers make sure not to be overly distracted by the football event itself and instead use their powerful convening power, and a hard deadline, to drive through policy-led initiatives that promote both city and national interests.

Professor David McGillivray is chair in event and digital cultures at the Centre for Culture, Sport and Events, University of the West of Scotland