Following the conclusion of the EURO 2008 qualifiers, a good number of associations decided to replace their head coach. Besides England, who recruited the renowned Italian Fabio Capello, Albania brought in former Dutch international Arie Haan to oversee their qualifying campaign for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. Armenia meanwhile gave the reins of their national team to Jan Poulsen, who was on the coaching staff of Denmark’s European Championship-winning side of 1992. Scotland, by contrast, opted to draw on homegrown talent by naming former Ipswich Town, Heart of Midlothian and Southampton manager George Burley as their new head coach.
The modernisation of stadiums remains a key issue for many associations and is taking shape in the renovation of old arenas such as the Vazgen Sargsyan (Republican) Stadium in Armenia, where work began in January. The stadium will be equipped with a new playing surface, floodlights and ViP facilities.
Other countries have brand-new stadiums in the pipeline. In Sweden, the new national stadium will be built just a few kilometres away from the Rasunda stadium, which is due to be demolished. The new Swedbank Arena will house 50,000 spectators, rising to 60,000 for concerts. Work on the new stadium will begin this year and its inauguration is scheduled for 2012. Meanwhile, thanks to the municipal authorities of Bratislava, who have donated a plot of land to the city’s three main clubs, Artmedia, Inter and Slovan, Slovakia’s dream of a national stadium could soon become reality. The Slovakian FA will team up with the three clubs in question and all being well, the new arena will be inaugurated in 2010.