The UK's Sam Ryder finished second in this year's Eurovision (Photo: MARCO BERTORELLO via Getty Images)
Eurovision could be on its way back to the UK, following the organisers’ decision that reigning champion Ukraine is sadly unable to host due to the ongoing Russian invasion of the country.
While it is clearly a situation no one had hoped for, there has been a respectful excitement about the Song Contest potentially returning to the UK for the first time in 25 years.
With talks now beginning between the European Broadcasting Union and the BBC about potentially staging the 2023 event, here’s everything we know about so far, including which city could host and how much it might cost...
Remind me, what happened at the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest?
Ukraine was crowned the winner of the 2022 Song Contest last month with Kalush Orchestra’s track Stefania.
The UK’s Sam Ryder finished in second place, with his track Space Man, bringing home our best result in the competition in 24 years.
Sam topped the jury vote in Turin, but Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra went on to win overall after a symbolic show of support in the public vote, which saw them soar to first place with 631 points.
Kalush Orchestra celebrate their Eurovision victory in Turin (Photo: picture alliance via Getty Images)
As the winner, Ukraine was in line to host the competition next year, but the Russian invasion raised a number of questions about its feasibility, until the EBU made an official announcement on 17 June about the 2023 event.
What has the EBU said about the UK hosting Eurovision in 2023?
Following Ukraine’s win, the EBU conducted a “full assessment and feasibility study” with Ukrainian state broadcaster UA:PBC as to whether it could go ahead amid the ongoing state of conflict in the country.
However, after “exploring all scenarios” with the network, the EBU shared “their sadness and disappointment that next year’s Contest cannot be held in Ukraine”.
“The EBU has been supporting UA:PBC across a whole range of areas since the invasion. We will ensure that this support continues so UA:PBC can maintain the indispensable service they provide to Ukrainians,” it said.
“As a result of this decision, in accordance with the rules and to ensure the continuity of the event, the EBU will now begin discussions with the BBC, as this year’s runner-up, to potentially host the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest in the United Kingdom.
“It is our full intention that Ukraine’s win will be reflected in next year’s shows. This will be a priority for us in our discussions with the eventual hosts.”
— Eurovision Song Contest (@Eurovision) June 17, 2022
What has the BBC said?
After seeing the announcement, the BBC issued a statement, which said: “Clearly these aren’t a set of circumstances that anyone would want. Following [the EBU’s] decision, we will of course discuss the BBC hosting the Eurovision Song Contest.”
However, it should be noted that nothing is yet confirmed, with the EBU and the BBC yet to begin discussions.
— BBC Press Office (@bbcpress) June 17, 2022
What has Ukraine said about the development?
Ukraine’s public broadcaster UA:PBC said it is “disappointed” Eurovision bosses have decided it cannot host next year and called for negotiations on a new location to be put on hold.
In a statement, it claimed the EBU had “denied Ukraine the right to host Eurovision 2023” after analysing the security situation in the war-torn country.
Mykola Chernotytskyi, head of the managing board of UA:PBC, said: “We are disappointed with this decision of the EBU.
“During this month, a large number of people in Ukraine have thrown all their efforts to fulfil the conditions for holding Eurovision in our country. Security is, of course, our first priority.
“The team of UA: PBC, state and local authorities did a thorough job and offered different options.
“It is a pity to see such an unappealable statement, therefore, we ask our partners to hold further negotiations.”
The broadcaster’s statement went on to detail a meeting on June 14 in which organisers from Ukraine met with representatives of the EBU and the contest itself.
They discussed the issue of security and three potential hosting locations – Lviv, in Zakarpattia on the border with Hungary and Slovakia, and in Kyiv.
The statement continued: “As a reminder, after the victory of Kalush Orchestra at Eurovision 2022 in Turin, Ukraine gained the right to host the Song Contest next year.
“UA:PBC as a member of the European Broadcasting Union ensures the selection and participation of a representative of Ukraine in the Eurovision Song Contest, is an official broadcaster of the contest, and organises the contest the following year in case of Ukraine’s victory.”
Ukraine’s culture minister Oleksandr Tkachenko also issued a statement on Telegram criticising the EBU’s decision.
This is rapidly becoming a proper diplomatic row.
While UK councils issue jolly press releases about how they want to host Eurovision, the Ukraine culture minister just posted on Telegram demanding his country gets to host. Suggests if BBC/UK hosts then undermines Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/udh4sQ8CDi
— Jim Waterson (@jimwaterson) June 17, 2022
“We honestly won Eurovision and have fulfilled all the conditions within the deadlines for the process of approving its holding in Ukraine,” he wrote.
Asking for further negotiations, he said: “Hosting Eurovision – 2023 in Ukraine is a strong signal to the whole world that supports Ukraine now. We will demand to change this decision, because we believe that we will be able to fulfil all the commitments, as we have repeatedly empathised it to the Eurovision Broadcasting Union [sic].”
How much would it cost the UK and the BBC to host Eurovision?
It is not clear whether the BBC would have to pay for the Contest from its current licence fee allocation or would be given further money.
According to the official Eurovision website, the host broadcaster usually makes a contribution of between €10 and €20 million, depending on local circumstances and available resources.
The host city would also be expected to make a contribution to holding the event.
Broadcasters who air the Contest in their respective countries also contribute a combined total of €6.2 million to the event.
The UK already spends more on Eurovision than most participants as it is part of the so-called ‘Big Five’ countries alongside France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
They are the highest-paying EBU members who significantly fund the contest each year, and as a result gain automatic entry into the final of the Contest.
So, what has the UK government said?
Downing Street has said it would “welcome” next year’s Eurovision being hosted in the UK.
Boris Johnson’s spokesperson said Ukraine’s victory was “richly deserved” and the government’s “overwhelming wish” was for the contest could be held there.
“We would welcome the opportunity to work with Ukraine and the BBC to host it here in the UK,” the spokesperson said.
No.10 added if the contest was held in Britain it would want it to reflect the “rich culture, heritage and creativity” of Ukraine.
Has a second-place country ever hosted Eurovision before?
The tradition of the winning country hosting the following year’s Song Contest was established in 1958, however there have been a number of occasions in the past where this has not happened, usually due to the expense of hosting the in recent years prior.
The UK hosted the Contest for the Netherlands in 1960, for France in 1963, and for Monaco in 1972, and for Luxembourg in 1974.
The Netherlands also stepped in to host the Contest for Israel in 1980.
When was the last time the UK hosted Eurovision?
Th UK last hosted Eurovision in 1998 after winning the contest with Katrina and the Waves’ Love Shine A Light a year prior.
Katrina And The Waves won the 1997 Eurovision Song Contest for the UK with Love Shine A Light (Photo: Rebecca Naden - PA Images via Getty Images)
It also staged the event in 1968, 1977 and 1982 after winning the previous years’ Contests.
The UK was also one of four joint winners in 1969, but did not host the 1970 event after a ballot selected the Netherlands to do so.
With eight hosting years, the UK has actually staged Eurovision more than any other country in the competition.
Where has Eurovision been held in the UK before?
In 1960, 1963, 1968 and 1977, London was the host city.
Edinburgh staged the 1972 event, with the show travelling to Brighton in 1974 and Harrogate in 1982.
Most recently, the Contest was held in Birmingham in 1998.
So where could the 2023 event take place?
London, Glasgow, Manchester, Cardiff, Aberdeen and Leeds are among cities that have already thrown their hats into the ring to host.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan tweeted: “Londoners would welcome Eurovision with open arms.
“We’re ready to step up and support Ukraine by hosting a contest that pays tribute to and honours the Ukrainian people, and also celebrates the very best of Britain too.”
Londoners would welcome Eurovision with open arms.
We're ready to step up and support Ukraine by hosting a contest that pays tribute to and honours the Ukrainian people, and also celebrates the very best of Britain too. https://t.co/J5ODlcOiuv
— Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan (@MayorofLondon) June 17, 2022
The event could take place at either the 20,000-capacity O2 Arena or the 12,500-capacity OVO Wembley Arena.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon voiced her support for Glasgow as the home of the Contest, tweeting: “We wish @Eurovision could be in Ukraine but understand that in circumstances this isn’t possible.
“However, I can think of a perfect venue on banks of the River Clyde!! @scotgov is happy to discuss with BBC, @GlasgowCC @EBU_HQ and others.”
We wish @Eurovision could be in Ukraine but understand that in circumstances this isn’t possible.
However, I can think of a perfect venue on banks of the River Clyde!! @scotgov is happy to discuss with BBC, @GlasgowCC@EBU_HQ and others https://t.co/74YzxlWgWh
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) June 17, 2022
The OVO Hydro arena in Glasgow is rumoured to be a favourite location to host the contest for the UK.
In a second tweet, Ms Sturgeon added: “Indeed there may be several possible venues in Scotland – let’s discuss!!”
Scottish National Party MSP for Aberdeen Central, Kevin Stewart, described his city as “the place to be”, adding: “Our city would be immense Eurovision hosts.”
My @AberdeenSNP colleagues & I have written to the BBC asking them to consider Aberdeen as the host city for next year’s #Eurovision We have the venue, we have the infrastructure & we have the atmosphere. #EuRowieVision 🇪🇺 pic.twitter.com/366KnBtnHS
— Kevin Stewart SNP (@KevinStewartSNP) June 17, 2022
Sacha Lord, night-time economy adviser for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and co-founder of Parklife festival, added: “Bringing @Eurovision @bbceurovision to Greater Manchester 2023, would be huge for our city region.
“We’re globally known for our music and I’m confident the right people would give it the full support, to make this happen.”
Bringing @Eurovision@bbceurovision to Greater Manchester 2023, would be huge for our city region.
We're globally known for our music and I'm confident the right people would give it the full support, to make this happen.#Eurovision2023
— Sacha Lord (@Sacha_Lord) June 17, 2022
Welsh Labour MP Kevin Brennan backed Cardiff, tweeting: “Clearly Eurovision should be held at the Principality Stadium (roof closed) Cardiff with 70,000 partygoers – no brainer.”
Clearly Eurovision should be held at the Principality Stadium (roof closed) Cardiff with 70,000 partygoers - no brainer
— Kevin Brennan MP (@KevinBrennanMP) June 17, 2022
Representatives of Leeds said the city had already been in contact with the Government and BBC about a bid for the contest.
A joint statement from James Lewis, leader of Leeds City Council, and Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for economy and culture, said: “Leeds has already proved that it has the capability and capacity to host major international events and ASM Global successfully hosted Eurovision in the Avicii Arena, Stockholm Sweden in 2016.
“Given that we will be mid-way through the Leeds 2023 Year of Culture, it could not come at a better time.”
Of course Leeds is actively pursuing hosting Eurovision 2023. Not only will we be mid way through our @LEEDS_2023 year of culture, but we’re proud that West Yorkshire is home to a large & historic Ukrainian population, so it’d be an honour to host Ukraine’s Eurovision here! 🇺🇦🇬🇧
— Jonathan Pryor (@Jonathan_Pryor) June 17, 2022
Glasgow is currently the bookies’ favourite to host the event, with odds of 4/7 with William Hill, with London following at 10/3.
What would this mean for the 2024 Contest?
If the UK were to hold the event next year, it could put the 2023 winners in a difficult situation over whether they get the opportunity to host in 2024 or forfeit to allow Ukraine their turn.
As the invasion of Russia remains ongoing it is uncertain what the situation may be in Ukraine in years to come.
However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has previously vowed to one day host the Eurovision Song Contest in the embattled city of Mariupol.
Ukraine has hosted the contest twice in its capital Kyiv, once at the Palace of Sports in 2005 and later at the International Exhibition Centre in 2017.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.