A message for the ‘other’ nations who make up this United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland — brace yourselves.
Because all available evidence about the importance of home advantage — a benefit that each of the four Euro 2020 semi-finalists have harnessed to great effect so far — points to only one outcome. England are clear favourites to be crowned European champions on Sunday night.
Playing all bar one game at Wembley has given them as significant an edge as virtually any ‘host nation’ would have enjoyed down the years.
UEFA have been accused of being unfair for allowing England to play more games at WembleyInsurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
When then-UEFA president Michel Platini first dreamed up this madcap scheme to stage a tournament that would belong to no single country — with almost half of Europe sharing the costs and benefits of hosting rights — this surely wasn’t what he had in mind.
And, while Gareth Southgate can point to a spectacular 4-0 trashing of Ukraine in Rome as evidence of his team’s ability to travel, many neutrals are already unhappy about his England team getting an ‘easy’ ride all the way to glory.
Former Scotland star Craig Burley, now a pundit for US-based broadcaster ESPN, let rip on air over the weekend — insisting there is no ‘fairness’ in a format that benefits one team more than any other. Burley, in discussion with a panel including former England star Steve McManaman, accused UEFA of making a ‘complete hash’ of their flagship event.
Former Scotland midfielder Craig Burley hit out at UEFA's competition format on ESPN
‘If you get to the final — which I think England will, even though Denmark are the best team still in there — you are going to play six out of seven games at Wembley,’ said the former Celtic and Chelsea midfielder.
‘What the hell is that all about from UEFA? You’ve played four games at Wembley already.
‘If you are an elite country, which England supposedly are, you can’t have them playing six out of the seven games in front of their own fans. So UEFA have made a complete hash of it.’
Whatever format you settle on for a tournament, of course, someone is always going to get a better run.
Host-nation status famously allowed England to play every single game at Wembley during their 1966 World Cup triumph. Thirty years later, and with Euro ’96 hosting rights in the bag, England laid out a similar path to glory. Only to trip up in the semi-final at, yes, Wembley.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Burley (right) was part of the Scotland team beaten by England at Wembley at Euro 96
Burley, part of the Scotland team beaten 2-0 by the home side in the group stage in north London 25 years ago, insisted: ‘I’ve got no problem with England, in the tournament I played in, playing their games at Wembley as they were hosting the whole tournament.
‘But we’ve just seen Belgium go out after travelling all over. We’ve seen other countries suffer the