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UEFA set to ABANDON plans to expand the European Championship to 32 teams from 2028

UEFA set to ABANDON plans to expand Euro to 32 teams from 2028 after broadcasters said qualifiers would be devalued… meaning some UK and Ireland venues would miss out on hosting games

  • UEFA planned another expansion of the European Championship to 32 teams
  • They had previously increased the number of nations to 24 for Euro 2016
  • However, the number will now remain at 24 for the tournament finals in 2028
  • Euro 2028 is expected to be hosted by Great Britain and Ireland
  • Broadcasters said a campaign from which 32 of 55 qualified had little value
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UEFA is set to abandon plans to expand the European Championship to 32 teams in time for the 2028 competition, which is set to be hosted in Britain.

The European governing body had planned another expansion of the European Championship after increasing it from 16 to 24 teams in 2016, but a UEFA working group tasked with looking at changes has reported major concerns over the impact on the broadcast value of qualifying tournament.

Sports mail has learned that broadcasters across Europe have told UEFA that a qualifying competition in which 32 of the 55 participating teams would reach the final would have little commercial value due to the predictability of many groups and the number of dead rubbers.

UEFA has considered other options, such as moving away from the traditional qualifying groups towards a series of straight knock-out matches and filling the void with an expanded Nations League programme, but that proposal has also not found favor with broadcast and commercial partners.

A final decision will be made at a meeting of UEFA’s executive committee in November.

The EC will now not be expanded from 24 to 32 teams from 2028
The EC will now not be expanded from 24 to 32 teams from 2028

The EC will now not be expanded from 24 to 32 teams from 2028

The United Kingdom and Ireland are front-runners to host Euro 2028, with the final likely to be held at Wembley Stadium
The United Kingdom and Ireland are front-runners to host Euro 2028, with the final likely to be held at Wembley Stadium

The United Kingdom and Ireland are front-runners to host Euro 2028, with the final likely to be held at Wembley Stadium

UEFA’s impending U-turn will have significant implications for Britain’s bid to host Euro 2028 and will be a blow to some potential host cities and clubs as a 24-team tournament will require just 10 venues.

The Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Belfast’s Windsor Park and Hampden Park in Glasgow have all but been guaranteed matches, while the Aviva Stadium and Croke Park could both host matches in Ireland, leaving just five English stadiums in the running, one of which will be Wembley.

The Aviva Stadium in Dublin, home of the Republic of Ireland team, is expected to host in 2028
The Aviva Stadium in Dublin, home of the Republic of Ireland team, is expected to host in 2028

The Aviva Stadium in Dublin, home of the Republic of Ireland team, is expected to host in 2028

Hampden Park, home of the Scotland national side, will also be guaranteed matches
Hampden Park, home of the Scotland national side, will also be guaranteed matches

Hampden Park, home of the Scotland national side, will also be guaranteed matches

A smaller tournament will be welcomed by the leading clubs and players who have expressed concerns about burnout, with PFA chief executive Maheta Molango telling Sports mail earlier this year that he was concerned about UEFA’s planned expansion.

“This just hurts the quality of the product,” Molango said. ‘Kids don’t see the best version of their idols. That is the reality.

“Yes, there may be short-term financial benefits, but in the long-term we are damaging the product.”

PFA chief executive Maheta Molango has expressed concern over player burnout
PFA chief executive Maheta Molango has expressed concern over player burnout

PFA chief executive Maheta Molango has expressed concern over player burnout

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