Football is coming home in 2028 as the UK & Ireland will be hosting the European Championship and we’re already excited.
Ten stadiums in nine cities have been nominated to stage matches that summer; Belfast (Casement Park), Birmingham (Villa Park), Cardiff (Principality Stadium), Dublin (Aviva Stadium), Glasgow (Hampden Park), Liverpool (Everton Stadium), London (Tottenham Hotspur Stadium & Wembley), Manchester (Etihad Stadium) and Newcastle (St James’ Park).
But the plethora of elite stadiums across the British Isles means there are inevitably some high-profile exclusions. We’ve identified nine of them here.
The biggest stadium that will stand empty in five summers time, Old Trafford has paid the price for years of neglect.
Seating 76,000 spectators, the home of Manchester United would’ve been guaranteed to host matches before the Glazer family allowed the ground to fossilise through their lack of investment.
United withdrew from the shortlist in April 2023, having been unable to provide “the necessary certainty around the availability of Old Trafford due to potential redevelopment of the stadium.”
And Gary Neville decried how United’s home has “gone from being one of the best stadiums in the world to one that can’t even get into the top 10 in the UK and Ireland.”
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City, will be the city’s venue at Euro 2028.
It’s almost unthinkable that a major tournament will be played in the UK without matches at Anfield.
But the home of Liverpool FC, which will soon complete its expansion to 61,000 after the rebuilding of the Anfield Road Stand, has been snubbed in favour of Eveton’s new ground at Bramley Moore Dock.
The size of Anfield’s pitch means it is not a UEFA-required stadium, as it is smaller than the fixed dimensions of 105m by 68m that host stadiums must have.
Another factor in Anfield’s exclusion is also the absence of a big screen, although you’d imagine that could have easily been remedied for the tournament.
Just like the 1966 World Cup, one of the most atmospheric stadiums in world football will not be used to stage matches.
Opened in 2006 and capable of seating 60,000 spectators, the Emirates Stadium is one of the biggest in the Premier League.
But the decision to limit London to just two stadiums meant Arsenal’s ground lost out to the state-of-the-art Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Plenty have criticised the Emirates atmosphere in the past, but the Gunners resurgence under Mikel Arteta has disproved that theory. And London’s substantial foreign-born population would’ve meant every match at the stadium would’ve sold out. Unlucky.
The home of West Ham United has also been criticised for its lack of atmosphere, running track and transport links that make the trek from Stratford somewhat hellish.
But the 60,000-seater made it to the final cut, before also losing out to fierce rivals Tottenham.
Despite staging the 2012 Olympics and matches at the 2015 World Cup, it won’t be used for Euro 2028.
Scotland will host matches at Hampden Park, but the decision to limit the country to just one stadium means an even bigger stadium in Glasgow won’t be used for the tournament.
Celtic Park can seat 60,411 and is capable of generating a knee-trembling atmosphere for Old Firm matches and Champions League nights.
But we don’t blame the Euro 2028 chiefs for dodging the hot potato of picking one of Celtic and Rangers and excluding the other. We wouldn’t have the cojones for that decision either.
“Oh, Grace, just hold me in your arms and let this moment linger…”
— Dickie Felton (@DickieFelton) October 4, 2023
Back in the 1980s, as English football stadiums unmodernised since the Victorian age crumbled, Ibrox was the most modern football arena in the country.
Home of Rangers, the 50,817 has hosted Scotland internationals and domestic cup finals whenever Hampden has been out of use and the home faithful created thunderous noise here during Rangers’ run to the 2022 Europa League final.
Alas, Hampden was always going to get the Scottish nod.
It might be controversial to include a rugby stadium here, but Cardiff’s Principality Stadium doesn’t stage football either. And Edinburgh would’ve been an incredible host city for Euro 2028.
The capital of Scotland is a tourist hot-spot and you could’ve imagined fans from across Europe soaking up the history and trawling its cobbled streets.
Murrayfield has been used for the occasional Hearts match in the past and staged a friendly between Liverpool and Napoli in 2019 that attracted 65,000 spectators.
If more than 10 stadiums had been chosen, Murrayfield could’ve been a surprise left-field choice.
Stadium of Light
Sunderland hosted 1966 World Cup matches at Roker Park, but their current home wasn’t built in time for Euro ’96.
While the city isn’t exactly a beauty spot, neither are the likes of Gelsenkirchen and Lens that have hosted tournament matches in recent memory.
And the Stadium of Light is a fine football arena. With room for 49,000 people, its hosted England internationals in the past and the training facilities have been described as ‘world-class’.
It was inevitable that Newcastle would be chosen as the North East’s representative at Euro 2028, but Sunderland’s ground was only cut at the final stage of the process.
One of the biggest cities in the UK, Leeds has tech companies falling over themselves to relocate to West Yorkshire. The cultural scene isn’t too bad either. Sadly, fans from across Europe will be unable to sample such delights.
With only six English stadiums chosen, and plans to redevelop Elland Road into a 50,000 seater put on ice after Leeds were relegated from the Premier League, it won’t stage matches at Euro 2028.
Outside of London, the south of England usually gets short-changed whenever international tournaments are staged here; no venues south of Birmingham were selected in 1966 and 1996.
Bristol, Milton Keynes and Plymouth were all shortlisted for the doomed 2018 World Cup bid, but never felt like realistic contenders this time.
But Brighton and Southampton, with modern arenas that staged matches at the Women’s European Championship in 2022, would’ve been fine hosts and might have been picked if England staged the 2028 event on its own.
Hillsborough in Sheffield was picked in 1966 and 1996, but has become slightly tatty over the years. Across town, Bramall Lane hosted games at the Women’s Euros but wasn’t shortlisted for 2028.
The East Midlands can perhaps feel short-changed too, with plans to redevelop the King Power Stadium in Leicester and the City Ground in Nottingham failing to sway the organisers.