The European Championships could be heading to the UK in 2026, with reports that it is the “intention” of Newcastle and Gateshead to bid for the event.

The biennial continental event, which was first held in 1934 in Turin, has never been staged in the UK but according to Chronicle Live, plans for a bid to host the 2026 multi-sport European Championships, which includes athletics, were revealed by Gateshead Council leader Martin Gannon during a recent conference.

“In terms of international events, there is the World Cup, which countries bid for, there is the Olympic Games, and the next biggest event is the European Championships,” Gannon was quoted as saying.

“There’s a global audience of a billion people, 2700 hours of live television. The last event was held in Berlin and Glasgow. It’s the intention of Gateshead and Newcastle to bid for the European Championships in 2026.”

Gateshead in the north east of England held a number of British televised track and field events at the turn of the millennium and staged the European Team Championships in 2013 in addition to its predecessor, the European Cup, in 1989 and 2000.

Birmingham and London had hosted the two Diamond League meetings held in Britain in recent years but world-class athletics had been set to return to the Gateshead International Stadium last year, with Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium undergoing redevelopment ahead of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, before the event was cancelled due to Covid-19.

Events like the English Schools Championships have also been held at Gateshead in recent years, while the iconic Great North Run route takes runners past the stadium.

“It was a disappointing year last year,” added Gannon, as quoted by Chronicle Live. “We wanted to return international athletics to Gateshead and we had planned to host a Diamond League event.

“It was the weekend after the Olympic Games so we would have had Olympic champions being flown into Gateshead and major investment has gone into the stadium to return international athletics to Gateshead.

“I was bitterly disappointed that didn’t take place and it was really disappointing that the Great North Run didn’t take place.”

Two-time British half-marathon champion Ryan McLeod was among those to welcome news of the potential bid, tweeting: “Amazing news for my region. Fingers crossed they’re successful in the bid.”

While Olympic marathoner and world 50km record-holder Aly Dixon wrote: “This would be great for the region.”

The 2018 European Athletics Championships took place in Berlin as part of the inaugural multi-sport European Championships which also saw action held in Glasgow. The next event is scheduled for Munich in 2022.

Source: AW