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  • Writer's pictureMichael Kenwood (Local Democracy Reporter)

Belfast making bid to host final for new UEFA Conference League

Belfast is making a bid to host the final of the new UEFA Conference League in 2023.

The bid was revealed at a recent committee meeting at Belfast City Council, where elected members noted a possible future commitment to give money to the Irish Football Association in support of its bid for the event next year.

The UEFA Conference League is a new competition, and will have its first final in Albania in June, this year.

At the council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, elected members heard the financial commitment was “not in the medium term financial planning,” and a report on financial implications would only be returned following a successful bid.

Councillors agreed to a request from UEFA to sign a “host city undertaking” letter.

The council report on the IFA bid states:

“Should the bid be successful, it is anticipated that there will be a financial ask – there is, however, no indication as yet of what this might be.

“The profile of the UEFA Conference League Final 2023 is possibly on a par with that of the Super Cup, and therefore there is the possibility of a similar request for the 2021 event.”

Last August, Belfast hosted the UEFA Super Cup final at Windsor Park, with the Council providing £200,000 to the IFA for the event.

The council said this money was allocated to “areas such as city animation, fan mobility and experience, the formal dinner in the City Hall and other city logistics.”

The council report states:

“An estimated 12,725 bed nights were created in Belfast (for the Super Cup), generating £1.12 million for the local accommodation sector. A further £700,000 was spent by attendees while in Northern Ireland for the match. The direct economic impact of the event has been measured at £3.9 million with a total economic impact of over £4 million.

“The benefits generated by the Super Cup also extend beyond the economic impacts. The match was aired on television and digital media all around the world, attracting an audience of 24.4 million.”

The council has noted that it has not yet agreed to give any finances. It states:

“It should also be noted that 2023 is a year of significant major event activity for the council, including the hosting of “One Young World,” the staging of the now biennial Maritime Festival signature event and preparation for 2024 Year of Culture, along with annual programme of events and potentially early planning of the Fleadh Cheol.

“These existing commitments have been considered within the division’s resource planning which did not include provision for this event (UEFA Conference League.)”

DUP Alderman Brian Kingston told the council committee:

“It is at an early stage, but we have to welcome this opportunity, and any opportunity to put Belfast on the map internationally as a positive host city for big events. We should be enthusiastic.

“We are not being asked to commit financially at this stage, there will be a request in due course. But as with the Super Cup, and the series of international events we had a number of years ago, all of these events raise our profile and our reputation.”


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