Insight

Does closure of Doncaster Sheffield Airport end city's Eurovision 2023 bid?

Sam Ryder, arrives at Heathrow Airport in London after finishing second in the final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Italy.
Credit: PA
Sam Ryder, the UK's entrant, came second at this year's contest. Credit: PA

As the cities shortlisted to host the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 nervously wait to find out if their bids are still in the running, there are questions about whether one contender's fate may already have been sealed.

Next year's contest should have been held in Ukraine after the country won this year's competition.

But, with the ongoing turmoil caused by Russia's invasion, the European Broadcasting Union and the BBC confirmed that the UK would step in, having finished as runner-up.

Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield are all vying to stage the event next May.

The BBC said there would be an update today on the race to be named host.

But it comes at a potentially inconvenient moment for Sheffield, following the announcement on Monday that Doncaster Sheffield Airport is to close permanently.

There are four major requirements for any city hoping to host Eurovision: a venue able to hold at least 10,000 spectators; a press centre for 1,500 journalists; hotel accommodation for at least 2,000 delegates, journalists and spectators; and, most pertinently for Sheffield, a city served by an international airport.

Sheffield Arena Credit: ITV Yorkshire

Could Sheffield still host Eurovision?

The news that DSA is to close has not come out of the blue – its owners Peel Group had said in July that it may no longer be financially viable.

Following that announcement, Don Valley MP Nick Fletcher was among those to suggest the loss of the airport could be terminal for Sheffield's Eurovision bid, saying on social media: "Sheffield has to have a local regional international airport to meet the criteria. There is only one airport that fits that criteria. Doncaster Sheffield Airport."

Social media users also expressed concern about the potential implications. Writing on the Save Doncaster Sheffield Airport Facebook group, Barry Cunningham said: "If we have the ambition to host such international cultural and sporting events, we can't afford to be left behind and be regarded as a second class city region!"

Speaking following confirmation that the airport would close, Sheffield City Council leader Terry Fox said: "To say this is unwelcome news is an understatement – partners across South Yorkshire have made a massive effort to get Peel to consider alternatives and this is a significant blow."

But the council insists it still makes the grade as a potential host city.

A spokesperson told ITV News that there were plenty of other airports within easy reach of Sheffield which could cater for attendees and the bid had never been dependent on DSA remaining open.

While the loss of the airport is a huge blow, they insist, it will not be the factor which costs the city its hopes of hosting Europe's biggest party.


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