Paddy Power literally points out unambitious Euro stadium selections


To shine a spotlight on this footballing faux pas, Paddy Power floated a giant inflatable arrow in the Northwest corner of Man City’s Academy Stadium during tonight’s Belgium v Iceland match, literally pointing out that Manchester City’s 55,000-capacity Etihad Stadium, a mere Ederson goal-kick (650 metres) away, is free and available in the background.

The massive 25x11x5ft inflatable carries the tongue-in-cheek message, “Anyone seen a stadium big enough for a Euros game?” and could be seen floating at the corner of the open stadium by players, fans and any UEFA or FA suits in attendance, as the sold-out match played out in front of a reduced-capacity crowd.

The women’s game has progressed massively in recent years, and this tournament was a great opportunity for teams to play in front of record crowds all over the country and accelerate that growth. Unfortunately, by choosing low-key and lower capacity stadia, in the form of the Academy Stadium and Leigh Sports Village, it gives the impression that those in charge are actually working hard to undermine that progress.

Two ends of Man City’s Academy Stadium are standing terraces and one end of Leigh Sports Village, another chosen stadium, is also standing only (something not permitted in UEFA competitions) meaning normal capacity is reduced for games at these venues from the already measly 7,000 and 12,000 respectively – a move which many, including current Iceland captain Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir, have branded “disgraceful”.

The Icelandic captain Gunnarsdóttir, who was playing in Iceland vs Belgium on Sunday when the giant inflatable popped up at the Academy Stadium, has spoken publicly over her disappointment about the way the stadium selection has been handled.

“It’s shocking” she said, “you’re playing in England, you have so many stadiums, and we have a training ground from City.