Jonathan Ford: Euro 2020 costs 'astronomical' for Wales

Jonathan Ford
Jonathan Ford was appointed the Football Association of Wales' chief executive in 2019

Wales face "astronomical" costs at Euro 2020, according to Football Association of Wales chief executive Jonathan Ford.

The tournament, which will take place in 12 cities across Europe, will be hosted across the continent for the first time to mark the 60th anniversary of the competition.

That means Wales will face Switzerland and Turkey in Baku, Azerbaijan, before taking on Italy in Rome.

"Logistically, the costs associated with it are astronomical," said Ford.

"I think Uefa [European football's governing body] have acknowledged it's very difficult for them, it's incredibly difficult for us logistically.

"We do get money from Uefa but ultimately it means we've got to spend more money logistically than anything else.

"For the fans, it's difficult to get to Azerbaijan - only three direct flights a week at this time. It's a difficult place to go.

"At least it is Baku, Baku, Rome. We are coming back west into mainland Europe and the rest of the games, save for a quarter-final, will be in mainland Europe.

"The great news of course is the semi-final and final are in London. So let's just hope we go all the way there."

Wales secured their place at the Euro 2020 finals with a 2-0 win over Hungary last month, qualifying for only a third major tournament in the country's history but a second successive European Championship.

The prospect of potentially incurring a loss financially would be at odds with their run to the semi-finals at Euro 2016, which earned the FAW a £3m profit.

Whereas Euro 2020 host nations such as England - and, if they qualify, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland - will save money on travel and other costs, Ford admits it is possible Wales could make a loss.

"Yes, it is. Absolutely. I don't think the [FAW] board is going to be too grateful to me for losing money, but yes there are lots of costs associated," he added.

"You get participation monies and we have to use those monies to participate in the tournament.

"There is a split between players and between costs, and ideally you bring some home to reinvest in football to ensure that we get there time and time again.

"Uefa are trying to put certain mechanics in place. If Northern Ireland qualify through the play-offs they've got to go to Dublin, England have just got to get on a bus.

"You could argue that some teams have got a home advantage and a financial advantage. So a sporting advantage and a fiscal advantage."

'Giggs proved the doubters wrong'

Wales manger Ryan Giggs (left) and FAW CEO Jonathan Ford
Jonathan Ford (right) with Ryan Giggs on the day of his appointment as Wales manager in January 2018

As well as marking a significant achievement for Wales, qualifying for Euro 2020 also represented a transformation in fortunes for manager Ryan Giggs.

The former Wales and Manchester United captain's appointment in January 2018 was unpopular among many fans, who did not believe he was as committed to his country as he was to his club during his playing career.

Public opinion worsened again as Wales' qualification hopes were left hanging by a thread after back-to-back defeats in Croatia and Hungary in June.

But Wales are unbeaten since then and Ford, who had targeted Giggs as a potential manager for years before his appointment, believes the former winger has confounded his critics.

"There were several people who doubted him. I am so glad he has managed to prove them wrong," Ford said.

"It was delightful to see so many people say 'We got it wrong, Ryan Giggs fantastic, what a great job that he's done'.

"He had a slightly ageing squad, some of the players did fantastically well for 2016, he had to bring a new crop of players on, got that team to gel together.

"It was not easy. I am delighted for the players, delighted for Ryan, I am delighted for the backroom staff, I am delighted for the fans. Everybody has played their parts here. Congratulations to the players, congratulations to Ryan, I think he deserves it.

"He has been pushing the glory elsewhere but has to take credit doesn't he?"