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Wales targets more major sports events

Football Association of Wales (FAW) chief executive Jonathan Ford has said the country would be keen to stage matches during football’s Uefa Euro 2020 national team tournament if other cities pulled out, while Economy Minister Ken Skates said the nation is also in talks to host future editions of cycling showpieces the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, as well as golf’s Open Championship.

The FAW failed in its efforts to secure games during the 60th anniversary edition of the European Championship, which is being staged in a number of cities across the continent, having put forward the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff as a potential host venue.

The Millennium Stadium on Saturday staged the final of Uefa’s Champions League club competition, and Ford said the game showed the Welsh capital is capable of hosting major football events.

“We’ve just staged the biggest single sporting event of 2017 – that’s got to go some way to showing people we can absolutely come to the table and host major finals in the future,” Ford told BBC Wales Sport.

Doubts have recently emerged over Euro 2020 games scheduled to take place in Brussels, as the proposed Eurostadium has not yet been built and it is not yet clear whether the facility will be ready in time for the tournament.

“We don't know about Belgium yet – there is some talk that the stadium might not be built in time,” Ford said. “If that's the case, Uefa would need to make some decisions. Do they use some of the existing stadiums? Do they need another venue?

“If they need another venue they will go through an open bidding procedure – we may just be interested.”

Meanwhile, Skates has said that the country has opened talks over the possibility of hosting other major sports events.

Wales has previously staged the likes of golf’s Ryder Cup, the Rugby World Cup and a number of Ashes cricket Tests. Skates said the country is keen to build on this and that talks are ongoing over the possibility of hosting other events, including The Open and Tour de France.

Skates told the BBC: “I think there is great potential to host new major events that have not yet been to Wales. We have had productive conversations with the organisations behind these events.”

Wales has highlighted the Royal Porthcawl course as a potential venue for The Open, which has never been staged in the country, and Skates said he is due to hold further talks with the Royal and Ancient (R&A), organiser of the tournament, later this year.

Skates said: “There are opportunities to host more golfing events and I'm keen to discuss with the R&A the potential of Wales to host the British Open. I think it is right that if we call it a British Open that it should be hosted in Wales and I'm keen to make sure that discussions take place with the R&A on that.

“I'll be meeting with The R&A again this summer to discuss how we take forward the potential of a British Open being staged in Wales. I think it is our time.”

Skates also spoke about the potential of staging cycling events such as the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, confirming that the government has spoken with the organisers of both races about a potential hosting agreement.

He said: “Cycling events such as the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France are hugely popular and we have proved we can host major cycling events in Wales, I would like to attract more. We have been speaking to the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France and that would be really exciting.”