Latest updates

Check the Important info page for latest updates! (18 July 2024)

Monday, May 16, 2011

EURO expansion: Those crafty Scots and Irish!

In January 2007, the Scottish FA asked UEFA to consider a feasibility study into an expanded 24-team UEFA European Championship.

Let's see what David Taylor (SFA chief executive) had to say:

'I would like to disabuse anyone of the notion that Scotland and Ireland are making this proposal for the simple reason that this is the only chance we would have to qualify for the final round of a major tournament.

Scotland are currently top of our Euro 2008 qualifying group - although to be fair Ireland are struggling a bit in theirs.

We have nothing but the good of football at heart in making this proposal.'

Absolutely... not true :) Let's see why.

Comparing actual and "what if" (24 teams) qualification results, I'll try to find out who would have gained the most by an expansion to 24 teams starting from the 1996 edition.

It's pretty straight forward. For each team I'll compute a score: 100 points for direct qualification, 90 points for qualification through play-offs and 10 points for a play-off defeat. For the 24 teams analysis, I'll award 100 points for a direct qualification and 40 points if a team would have qualified for the play-offs. Then I'll look at the differences.

22 teams would have been completely unaffected: Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cyprus, Estonia, Faroe Islands, FYR Macedonia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova and San Marino

4 teams would have been slightly affected (i.e. the number of they qualified would have stayed the same, but they would have avoided the play-offs): Netherlands, Spain, Denmark and Latvia.

40 points: Romania, Switzerland, Austria, Georgia and Iceland
50 points: Croatia and Russia
80 points: Poland, Slovakia and Finland
90 points: Ukraine and Wales
100 points: Sweden, Turkey, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Lithuania
110 points: England
130 points: Israel
140 points: Greece, Serbia and Belgium
200 points: Northern Ireland
280 points: Scotland
290 points: Norway
320 points: Republic of Ireland

Even by ignoring EURO 2008 (the qualification was not over at the time of the proposal), the top 5 differences would have been:

220 points: Republic of Ireland
190 points: Norway
180 points: Scotland
140 points: Greece and Belgium

So two of the top 3 countries that would have had the most to gain in terms of EURO qualification came forward with this proposal, but they want us to believe they had nothing but the good of football in heart in making this proposal.

Indeed, nothing but the good of football :)

About me:

Christian, husband, father x 3, programmer, Romanian. Started the blog in March 2007. Quit in April 2018. You can find me on LinkedIn.


  1. Ha ha, that makes it pretty stark. I knew they'd be among the front runners to benefit from that system, but that really shows it.

    Yes, the good of football. Scottish and Irish football.

  2. Excelent job, as always.

  3. format of World Cup African qualifiers

  4. I'm Scottish and agree that self interest was the prime motivation behind this proposal. However I'm sure many other mid-rankin nations such as Hungary, Austria, Bulgaria etc would have seen their own self interest in voting in favour of the proposal and might have acted in the same way if they has the necessary infleunce within UEFA.

    Am I correct in saying that the proposal has been accepted and will be implemented for the 2020 tournament?

  5. Edgar, what means matches i would like to seen in elo vs. fifa posts (not the best place to ask this, but i think you would not answer to such an early post)

  6. @ Tony

    No. 2016 is the expansion year.

  7. @ Anonymous

    He picks matches where a team rated strong in Elo rankings but weak in FIFA rankings is paired with a team rated strong in FIFA but weak in ELO.

  8. @Bicycle Kicker


    @Tony Bananas

    I have no problem with SFA looking for their own interest - I just don't agree with the need to lie like this.


    You can comment anywhere - I will answer.


    Thanks for the help!

  9. Good of football will be served anyway. More teams means more football, which is good for football.

    Let in 48 ;)

  10. @Kevin Breslin

    64 would be better - even if there would be some groups with only 3 teams. Even tiny San Marino deserve a taste of the big stage. :)

    @Anonymous (CAF)

    Sorry, your comment got caught by BlogSpot's anti-spam system.

  11. 64 teams, eh, Edgar? Guess we're going to have to find an extra 11 teams. Let's see, Kosovo, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Chechnya, Gibraltar, Greenland, Catalonia, Ajaria, The Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Vatican City.

  12. Abkhazia, Chechnya, Ajaria and The Channel Islands don't have football teams.