Manchester should be next year’s Eurovision Song Contest host, according to the city’s council leader and a growing army of supporters. Earlier today, it was announced that contest bosses were discussing the possibility of the UK hosting next year’s event with the BBC.
The European Broadcast Union (EBU), which runs the contest, says it is not possible to follow the traditional format of the previous year’s winners welcoming the world in 2023. That’s because Ukraine took home the top prize this year, and the EBU has decided that the country cannot host next year’s contest, due to security concerns amid Russia’s ongoing invasion.
As the UK’s Sam Ryder came second in Turin last month, the EBU has decided to ‘open discussions’ with the BBC over holding the event in the UK. It would be the first time the UK has hosted the contest since 1998, which saw Birmingham open its doors after Katrina and the Waves won the year before.
And now, Bev Craig — Manchester City Council leader — has said she “can’t think of anywhere better” to play host to Europe. She tweeted: “Hello BBC Eurovision, this is Manchester calling.
“Not the circumstances that anyone would want given the war in Ukraine. But if it’s to be a UK city – I can’t think of anywhere better, a great music city and fittingly home to a large Ukrainian community.”
The council’s city centre spokesperson, Pat Karney, also indicated his wish for the global event to be hosted in Manchester for the first time. Speculation is now rife that the music extravaganza really could come to Greater Manchester, after the BBC moved its Eurovision hub to Salford in time for this year’s event.
Business leaders are also now calling on the city council and others to bring the event to the city. Both the Federation of Small Business and the GM Chamber of Commerce have come on board to make the case for Manchester/Salford 2023.
Chris Fletcher, the chamber’s policy and campaigns director said: “Obviously, whilst nothing is confirmed as yet, the hosting of Eurovision would be a tremendous boost not just for Greater Manchester but the whole country.
“There is a long history and a lot of experience about hosting large scale events and there is also a huge cultural heritage around the city and the Eurovision Song Contest ticks all the boxes.
“Any large event like this obviously brings with it an economic boost, both with direct spend around tourism but there are also longer lasting impacts as more people become aware of what Greater Manchester has to offer and they may look at future investment opportunities.”
Vaughan Staples, president of the UK Eurovision fan club, which is largest of all European countries, also welcomed the likely move to the UK. He described Manchester as the “frontrunner” although other cities are still in the frame.
He explains: “If it comes to the UK, I think the contenders are currently Glasgow and Cardiff, but definitely with Manchester the front runner, mainly because Salford’s MediaCity recently became home to the BBC Eurovision production team which has all of the technical equipment and abilities needed for a host city.
“The city has also the hotel capacity and an international airport to cope with the influx of visitors and delegations. That, coupled with the city’s inclusive outlook, diversity and huge LGBT community as a huge support base for the contest makes it an ideal fit for Eurovision.”
Support for Manchester to host the event has also now come from Wythenshawe born Lyn Paul, who was lead singer with the New Seekers whose song Beg, Steal or Borrow finished runner up at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1972 at Edinburgh’s Kelvin Hall.
She told the MEN: “Mancunians are accepting, friendly and very understanding of the horrors in Ukraine and would welcome all competitors with open arms. I honestly can’t think of a finer city than Manchester to take up the mantle.
“I would highly recommend Manchester, and as a true ‘Manc’ and past competitor, the pride would be immense.”
She adds: “The amount of musical talent that has emerged from Manchester is phenomenal and as far as I’m concerned is the musical capital of the country.”
The city is also blessed with a wealth of music stadia, should production of the show be wanted inside an arena rather than the purpose-built film studios of MediaCity. And Greater Manchester has of course got a demonstrable wealth of experience welcoming and playing host to hundreds of thousands of music fans.
Just last weekend some 400,000 visitors came to the city-region for Parklife Festival at Heaton Park, while Ed Sheeran performed four nights at the Etihad Stadium. On the same Saturday, rock icons The Killers also played at the Emirates Old Trafford cricket ground, while American superstar Alicia Keys performed at the AO Arena.
However, BBC bosses are staying tight-lipped on the possibility of the contest coming to the country, let alone any particular city. A statement from the broadcaster on Friday said: “We have seen the announcement from the EBU.
“Clearly these aren’t a set of circumstances that anyone would want. Following their decision, we will of course discuss the BBC hosting the Eurovision Song Contest.”