Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield have been named as potential hosts of the 2023 Eurovision song contest when it is held in the UK for the first time in 25 years.
The seven candidate cities were announced by Scott Mills live on Zoë Ball’s Radio 2 breakfast show.
This year’s Eurovision was won in Turin by Kalush Orchestra, representing Ukraine. That would normally mean Ukraine would be 2023 hosts, something its government wanted to happen, but in June the European Broadcasting Union announced that next year’s contest could not be held there because of the war.
Instead, the UK, which came second with Sam Ryder’s song Space Man, was asked to host the 67th Eurovision.
Twenty venues put in bids to host the largest and most complex music competition in the world, watched this year by a global audience of 161 million.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, tweeted: “It’s got to be Glasgow!”
Her sentiment was echoed by bookmakers, with William Hill making the city 4/5 odds on favourite.
Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow city council, said she was delighted. “Delivering such a unique event in such a short timescale presents a challenge, but Glasgow has an unrivalled track-record for successfully hosting major global events and we’re confident we can present a Eurovision that reflects a true celebration of Ukrainian culture.”
Birmingham, which was the last UK host city in 1998, when Dana International won, is second favourite. Ian Ward, the leader of Birmingham city council, expressed his delight. “This is a city of sanctuary, a city who has welcomed people from around the world and made their home here. We would love the honour of hosting, on behalf of Ukraine, the Eurovision song contest next year.”
One of the outsiders, if bookies’ odds are to be believed, is Sheffield which has promised to “throw the kitchen sink” at winning.
Ben Miskell, a Sheffield city councillor helping to lead his city’s bid, said: “Euphoria is ringing out across South Yorkshire. We’re proud to be flying the flag in solidarity with Ukraine and hope that the EBU will shine a light on Sheffield and make our region their No 1.”
Steve Rotheram, the metro mayor of Liverpool city region, said there was “nowhere more qualified, more experienced or more fitting” to host Eurovision than Liverpool.
“Liverpool wouldn’t be Liverpool without music – and music wouldn’t be music without Liverpool,” he said.
Tracy Brabin, the mayor of West Yorkshire, tweeted: “Leeds & Leeds & Leeds & Leeds … we’re ready.” She said: “It’s an amazing city, bursting at the seams with vibrant creativity and would shine given the chance to host this event.”
In Newcastle, the city councillor Alexander Hay said he was “absolutely ecstatic” at the news. “I’m looking forward to continuing to work with partners, hotels and organisations across the city to bring this bid together.”
Bev Craig, leader of Manchester city council, said her city was thrilled. “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.”
Missing from the shortlist were the previous hosts London, Brighton and Edinburgh. Others that did not make it were Aberdeen, Belfast, Bristol, Nottingham, Wolverhampton and Darlington, thought to be the only town that threw its hat into the ring.
The BBC said a final decision on the venue would be made in the autumn.
It had invited bids which met criteria, including having a venue that could seat at least 10,000 people, being within easy reach of an international airport, and having ample hotel accommodation.
Cardiff had been a contender but pulled out because it would have meant cancelling “a significant number” of other events next spring.
That is likely to be an problem for whichever city wins because of the need to use the venue for weeks of rehearsals before the semi-finals and final.