Liverpool and Manchester face off to bring Eurovision to the North West

Eurovision UK contestant Sam Ryder
Sam Ryder who came second at Eurovision

They are known for their fierce rivalry and their musical heritage, now Liverpool and Manchester are battling it out to host the Eurovision Song Contest.

Both cities are celebrating making it through to the UK's shortlist to host the event which is watched by millions around the world.

Twenty cities submitted an "expression of interest" to host, but only seven were selected by the BBC and European Broadcasting Union.

Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield have reached this stage in the selection process but must now compete in the final round.

Two of ITV Granada Reports journalists have been making the case for the bidding cities.

 In strict alphabetical order Victoria Grimes reports first on Liverpool's bid.

Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson said: “Eurovision is made for this city and I’m so pleased Liverpool has been shortlisted.

“When we heard the sad announcement that Ukraine would be unable to host, Liverpool stepped forward and offered to stage the event in solidarity with, and in tribute to, this amazing country and its people.

“A huge amount of work is already going on behind the scenes to make Liverpool’s vision and ambition a reality. There are a number of complexities in staging a show of this scale, but we have one of the best event teams in the world, and one of the best cities in the world to act as a backdrop to Eurovision 2023 – let’s do this Liverpool!”

Claire McColgan CBE, Director of Culture Liverpool, said: “We are so excited to be shortlisted and now we have the chance to fully demonstrate this city’s culture credentials, our enviable creativity and our passion and expertise in staging large-scale, major events.

“As a city our award-winning events team opened up the nation’s first music events as we emerged out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This is our moment to show everyone what we can deliver. We are a city of music and a champion for social justice, so in this unique situation for Eurovision we feel like there is nowhere better than Liverpool to host Eurovision 2023.”

ITV Granada Reports journalist Emma Sweeney reports on Manchester's bid

Manchester city council leader Bev Craig said: "We are thrilled to have made it through to the next stage to become the 2023 Eurovision host city.

"Manchester stands ready to put on the biggest party in the UK at the city's AO Arena, taking our place in Eurovision's unique history.

"We have a large and proud Ukrainian community in Manchester. It would be our privilege to host this iconic celebration on their behalf and we will do everything we can to honour them throughout."

Sacha Lord, the city's night-time economy adviser and co-founder of its Parklife festival, added: "I am absolutely thrilled that Manchester has been shortlisted to host Eurovision 2023.

"Manchester is famed for its music and music legacy, and has been host to some of the most iconic gigs in history. I have no doubt that if Eurovision comes to the city next year, we will put on a show like no other."

Cheryl Baker who won Eurovision with Bucks Fizz backs Liverpool's bid Credit: PA

Cheryl Baker, who won Eurovision in 1981 with Bucks Fizz had originally backed Cardiff to host, but now says it would be great for Liverpool to win because of its "beautiful heritage", and equally Birmingham because "it's in the middle of the country".

She said of the song contest: "It has grown year on year, the affection for it, especially because of this year with Sam Ryder absolutely making it so massive and being so kind about Ukraine, saying 'It's your party but we are having it in our house', I think it is going to be the best year."

Kalush Orchestra in Ukraine who won Eurovision

Ukrainian entry Kalush Orchestra triumphed at this year's competition in Turin, Italy, but the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which produces the annual event, decided the event cannot be held in the war-torn country following Russia's invasion.

The UK was given the chance to host Eurovision for the ninth time, more than any other country, after Sam Ryder came second in the competition.

Of the seven UK cities shortlisted, six are from England and one is from Scotland, with Belfast failing to make the cut for Northern Ireland.

Ukraine fans celebrating their country's win at Eurovision

The winner will need a large events space, suitable accommodation and international transport links for the competing countries and their delegations.

Ukraine will automatically qualify for the Eurovision grand final alongside the so-called big five nations - the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain - who each get a free pass because of their financial contributions to the event.

The UK-based think tank and charity British Future called for Ukrainian refugees and their UK host families to be given "priority tickets" to Eurovision 2023.

The host city is expected to be announced by the autumn.