Why a joint Sunderland/Newcastle Eurovision bid would hit wrong note with city councillor

A Sunderland councillor has downplayed the possibility of a joint bid with Newcastle to bring the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest to the North East.

By Kevin Clark
Wednesday, 13th July 2022, 3:13 pm

Normally, the winners play host the following year, but after Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra took the number one slot this year, organisers have said the war-torn nation is not a safe option.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has said the ‘security and operational guarantees’ required cannot be fulfilled by Ukraine’s public broadcaster UA:PBC while the Russian invasion continues.

The organisation has opened talks with the BBC about hosting next year’s competition after the UK’s Sam Rider came second in May.

But Wearside could face a North East rival, after Newcastle threw its hat into the Eurovision ring.

Newcastle City Council has confirmed it is exploring a bid.

Coun Alex Hay, the council’s cabinet member responsible for tourism, said: “Obviously it would be wonderful to host Eurovision and we believe that Newcastle would be a perfect host city. We are looking forward to hearing more about the bidding process and are already working with partners to explore the opportunity.”

Could the spectacle of Eurovision come to Sunderland?

There has been no confirmation of which venue would be chosen to stage Eurovision in Newcastle, though the 11,000-capacity Utilita Arena would seem the obvious choice.

However, Coun McDonough believes Sunderland is better equipped to host the contest, with the Stadium of Light being a perfect venue.

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He said news of a possible bid had been popular, though it was still early days: “I have been chatting to the football club and had some discussions with the BBC regarding viability but it’s still very early days, as the BBC have yet to officially confirm that they will host.

Sam Ryder came second for the United Kingdom in May's contest

"Reaction from residents and within the council has been very positive indeed, though, and it's just great that we're up there and being mentioned beside places like London and Glasgow,” he said.

But a joint bid would not be feasible: “I don't think a joint bid would work sadly, as the 'Eurovision Village' tends to be in a smaller area with the venue, Euroclub and press centre within close proximity.

"I do actually think that our set up is better suited, thanks to the surrounding buildings that would be available.”

Kalush Orchestra of Ukraine were named the winners during the Grand Final show of the 66th Eurovision Song Contest