FAI and IFA set to co-host European U-21 Championship

The football associations of Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland expect to bring the U-21 European Championship to the island in 2021 or 2023.

FAI chief executive John Delaney and his IFA counterpart Patrick Nelson will make “a special announcement” in Belfast tomorrow.

And a cross-border hosting of the U-21 event seems certain to be top of their agenda.

It’s understood they hope to be awarded the 2021 finals as that year will mark the FAI’s centenary celebrations – the southern body came into existence following a split from the IFA.

The joint effort would be a major step forward in relations between the two bodies given recent tensions over dual eligibility players.

They are also working together as part of a feasibility study into joining England, Scotland and Wales in a bid for the 2030 World Cup.

The European U-21 Championships is a different animal, but it would still require a substantial effort. Twelve teams participate in the biennial competition and six venues are required to stage the finals.

They have to meet either UEFA Category 3 or Category 4 standard. Category 3 status would leave a little more wriggle room.

The Aviva Stadium, Windsor Park and Tallaght Stadium are the established venues that meet Category 4 status.

Stadiums used by other codes would also enter calculations, while alterations would be required to bring other grounds on both sides of the border up to scratch.

A 6,000-capacity stadium in San Marino has met criteria to stage games in the 2019 tournament in Italy.

UEFA would have to tweak qualifying regulations to give automatic berths to co-hosts.

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