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Roker Roundtable: Would Sunderland hosting Euro 2028 fixtures be an exciting prospect?

With the Stadium of Light on the list of potential venues for the tournament, we asked our panel for their thoughts on how big it could be for the city and the region

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images,

Andrew Smithson says…

I’d be over the moon if Sunderland became a host city for the Euros.

It would be great to experience a major tournament in person with my kids, and being the proud Sunderland resident I am, I’d love to see the city welcoming visitors and getting some exposure. It would no doubt boost the economy, and maybe even lead to one or two of the naysayers winding their necks in for once.

Most of the people who sneer about the city haven’t properly seen it, or do so to suit their own agenda. It is hard to argue with the track record of both the council and the club in staging major events, and that will hopefully be a factor in the decision making process.

As well as regular gigs such as the City Runs, Festival of Light, Air Show, concerts and football matches, we also saw the Tall Ships a couple of years ago and in recent weeks, the Tour of Britain and the British Triathlon Super Series.

These were all big operations that ran smoothly against a wonderful backdrop, and the infrastructure is undoubtedly in place to make us a successful host.

Hotel spaces have risen of late, connectivity is good (the first phase of the train station renovations are already well underway) whilst Keel Square would make a great location for a fan park. There are already several successful visitor attractions, bars and restaurants in the centre and wider area too, with plans for all those areas to increase further by 2028, international football tournament or not.

Whether we are selected remains to be seen, but either way, there is a lot to be proud of about Sunderland, both in terms of natural beauty and man-made provisions. It would be lovely to think that we could share our home with others, and get to see some more international football into the bargain.

Beacon of Light, Sunderland, United Kingdom. Architect: FaulknerBrowns, 2019. Photo by: Richard Chivers/View Pictures/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Rich Speight says…

It would mean an awful lot to me.

Simply in terms of our city’s name being on the lips of people across the continent and around the world, it would be great. It would also be a boon for local businesses and the wider economy of the region, and if coupled with St James’ Park as the home region for one of the groups, it would mean we have large groups of travelling fans who might stay in the area all summer.

Add to that the opportunity for people in our area to experience top level international football on their doorstep, which is something we’ve not had since Roker Park and Ayresome Park were part of the 1966 World Cup.

If we are chosen as a host city, it would fulfill the original dream from twenty five years ago, because the Stadium of Light was designed for this kind of event, with world class facilities behind the scenes and all the safety features that UEFA could ask for already in place.

Having seen first hand the success of the Women’s Euros this summer, I cannot see any downsides to this at all.

Sunderland v Swindon Town - Sky Bet League One Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Tom Albrighton says…

To me it would neither mean a lot or nothing at all.

On one hand, there’s a host of positives: the income into the region and surrounding businesses, our name up in lights (no pun intended) and an even greater spotlight on what the club is achieving, helping to put our name back on the map.

However, it may also bring downsides.

The pitch will be put under increased strain and a summer of football at the Stadium of Light means any chances of home games for pre-season vanish. On the social side, whilst Sunderland could greatly benefit from the influx of people to the city, we all know that most of those who make the journey will likely flock to other nearby cities when the football comes to an end. The result is a great cost to Sunderland with less reward than you’d expect.

Add in a raft of potentially p****d up fans and you can see where things could easily go wrong in what is essentially a small and cramped city.

All in all, it makes for much ado about not very much, especially if your team don’t get to play there, and considering most fans will be England fans, we all know that it simply won’t be a venue for the Three Lions.

Nevertheless, it would be exceptional PR for a city that has endured years of negative spin, sneering and jibes being thrown in its direction, but I’m just not sure how captivated by football fever everyone will be.

The Brexit Effect On Sunderland As Nissan Ditch X-Trail SUV Production Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Ewan Bowman says…

It would mean a lot.

Being born and bred in this city, we have all experienced the ups and downs of being a Mackem, and using the Stadium of Light as a host venue for a major international tournament would be hugely beneficial for the local economy and for Sunderland as a club.

With our region filled with first class beaches, it could attract tourists from all over Europe for a prolonged stay during the summer, and the hospitality sector would be booming.

Our stadium has also proved that it can host big events such as concerts, as well as three full England internationals, and with 49,000 seats, it is hugely attractive to tournament organisers. In addition, the Academy of Light could also be used as a training base for teams.

With good transport links to and from Newcastle - the airport being forty minutes away and the region having some fantastic hotels - the North East is ready to host tournament football. The region lives and breathes the sport and this would certainly be a positive for everyone.

Sunderland v Northampton Town - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Beacon of Light, Sunderland, United Kingdom. Architect: FaulknerBrowns, 2019. Photo by: Richard Chivers/View Pictures/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Kelvin Beattie says…

As a lad, I was in the Roker End for the USSR versus Chile game at the 1966 World Cup, and the price of tickets was a bit of an issue.

I was gifted a ticket and can remember ‘Porky’, the USSR winger, and I was gutted because Lev Yashin was not playing. At the time, I thought it was great that World Cup matches were being played at Roker Park, although I would struggle to say what the legacy of this was, other than bragging rights and a roof on the Fulwell End!

If Euro 2028 games were to be played at the Stadium of Light, I would welcome affordable tickets for the general football supporter and more of an emphasis on family packages rather than corporate offers. In essence, put some thought into the legacy rather than just making money.

It would be great if Sunderland had home nations players involved, and I wonder if our Under 21’s and Under 18’s, who are both flying at the moment, have players that could feature?

Bring it on.


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