St Mary’s Stadium is set to play host to matches during UEFA Women’s EURO 2021, after being part of England’s successful bid to host the tournament.
Southampton’s ground was one of eight put forward, along with Wembley Stadium, in the Football Association’s proposal, which was approved by the UEFA Executive Committee today.
The prestigious continental championship will be played at eight venues across the country before concluding with the showpiece final at Wembley Stadium.
With a strong bid to bring the tournament back to the country for the first time since 2005, no other nations went up against the Football Association’s entry. It means England will qualify automatically for the 16-team finals as hosts.
The FA’s decision to bid was part of its ‘Gameplan for Growth’ strategy to grow the women’s game, and followed the successful Euro 2017 campaign in the Netherlands which saw the Lionesses reach the semi-finals, generating a record peak audience of four million TV viewers in the UK.
That success was followed by a best-ever showing at the SheBelieves Cup in the United States in March 2018 and qualification in October 2018 for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup next June.
The bid proposes a country-wide spread of host cities and stadia of varying capacities, a year after hosting the equivalent final for the men's tournament at Wembley.
The proposed cities and stadia are:
• Brighton & Hove – AMEX Stadium
• London – Wembley Stadium connected by EE
• London – Brentford Community Stadium
• Milton Keynes – Stadium MK
• Manchester – Manchester City Academy Stadium
• Nottingham – City Ground
• Rotherham – AESSEAL New York Stadium
• Sheffield – Bramall Lane
• Southampton – St Mary’s Stadium
The next key date will be the draw for the qualifying group stage, which will be held on February 22nd next year. Following that, the qualifiers will be played from August 2019 to September 2020 to determine 12 of the finalists, with the play-offs determining the last three entrants in October 2020.
Martin Glenn, The FA’s chief executive officer, said: “Bringing EURO 2021 to England will be a tremendous opportunity to celebrate women’s football and will allow us to amplify our significant commitment to growing the game.
“We cannot underestimate the positive impact this tournament will have on inspiring the next generation. Young girls and boys will be lifted by the chance to see Europe’s elite on their doorstep and it can only help the collective effort across our leagues and clubs to grow the game even further, especially with our restructured Women’s Super League making such a promising start.
“We are determined to put on a great showcase with Europe’s top talent playing in front of packed stadiums. To have Wembley for the showpiece final will be a fitting conclusion to what I am certain will be a wonderful tournament.
“I would also like to thank everyone who has worked on this successful bid – not just across The FA but also the clubs and cities concerned. A huge amount of effort and collaboration has gone into making this possible. With the World Cup next summer in France, there is plenty to look forward to in the women’s game.”