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Tip: Back Manchester to host Eurovision 2023

The announcement that the United Kingdom will host the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest is fantastic news for Eurovision punters. By far the biggest market for gambling on the Song Contest is the United Kingdom, so expect plenty of special markets coming up in the next 10 months to make your money from the bookies.

And some of that has already started. You can already place bets on who is going to win the Eurovision Song Contest for next year with SkyBet (e/w ⅕ odds top 4) but the amounts one can stake mean these markets are more for amusement than anything else. Ukraine are obvious favourites at 3.5 given their televote last year but if you are desperate to start your Eurovision book early I’d recommend something like Romania at 151 each way. They have been on a terrible run of form recently but are a country that really were in the mix to win the Contest 15 years ago and can also command a high televote if they get the formula right.

But the biggest betting market of the moment is going to be the race for the next Eurovision host city. Thank you once again to Smarkets for starting off the trading on this weeks ago (and for the tidy profit we made on the UK hosting Eurovision 2023, which Smarkets have already settled), but many of the high street chains are now also joining the party.

Best prices for the favourites at time of writing are as follows:

Glasgow - 2.5 - SkyBet

London - 7.0 - SkyBet

Manchester - 8.0 - Betway

Birmingham - 11.0 - Ladbrokes

Liverpool - 15.0 - William Hill

Cardiff - 21.0 - Betfair Sport

Others are available and with over a dozen cities actively interested in hosting the Eurovision Song Contest in the UK this year, expect a fierce battle to take place. Personal opinion is that should any shortlist be created to host Eurovision 2023 I would be surprised if anybody outside of these six would make it. There are many places in the UK with suitable venues, hotel capacity and access to international airports that would make them viable host cities, but it is the events outside the core show and having capacity for them with suitable status and glamour as well (thinking here your Eurovision Village/Red Carpet etc) that means these favourites are the front runners.

Glasgow’s best price of 2.5 is only with SkyBet (max stake £20) and most other bookmakers have Scotland’s hosting of Eurovision as an odds on affair (Smarkets best alternative at 1.92). There’s a few obvious reasons why there is favourite status. The Hydro is one of the UK’s more modern and visually iconic venues and is relatively close to the city centre. The links made to that Netflix film heightens the modern nostalgia to bring the Contest there. Furthermore there has been very vocal support to host from Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish government. It would not be inconceivable to think that national level support comes in for the Glasgow bid making it possibly the one with the biggest bankroll to put on the event.

That Scottish government support is a curse as much as it is a blessing. The Scottish government has declared their intention to host an independence referendum once more in the latter part of 2023. The Eurovision Song Contest is a staunchly apolitical event and a Scottish government sponsored event to show itself as a bigger part of Europe may sit uneasy for some hyper aware of any bias within the BBC at a politically sensitive time.

This is where the other cities in the UK come into the equation. The proposed bid from Birmingham as I understand is to hold the show over by the Resorts World Arena, and combined with the NEC I could imagine this becoming “Campus Eurovision” over by Birmingham Airport. Should the covid-19 pandemic reemerge as problematic in the next couple of months then I can see this all-in-one location being desirable, otherwise it may appear too dry for the relaunch we hope into normality that 2023 provides.

Similarly the amount of bookings currently held in London’s 02 Arena (including a Måneskin gig on May 8th) suggests London will equally be compromised with whatever arena they put forward. Furthermore the era of huge stadium size Eurovision Song Contest’s appears to have passed us by and with Cardiff likely to propose the Millennium Stadium for their proposed location the EBU are likely to want a size that is more manageable (and one likely to have an audience for Tuesday afternoon rehearsals).

News from Merseyside has been talking big in the past 24 hours about their musical heritage, a very valid argument, but the arena size in Liverpool only just scrapes the minimum requirement and, we must remember that the show this coming year will show off little of the host city’s culture. The press release from the EBU has spoken about the need for Ukrainian identity to be present so don’t expect a long Beatles medley to take centerstage.

This leaves Manchester. Manchester is up in the mix for a variety of reasons. The BBC Eurovision team is based within walking distance. It is a city that has been growing and developing rapidly in recent years, especially in creative industries. It also is, outside London, the city with the largest Ukrainian community in the country. Manchester is the obvious neutral blank canvas location for a hosting with Ukrainian influence, and also for the neutrality of keeping current BBC motivation of hosting events in the North. Liverpool can throw a strop at this here, but it is Manchester that delegations round Europe would arriving into being closer to a major international airport and having an abundance of 4 and 5 star hotels to choose from.

The arena in Manchester has only one booking for the whole six weeks from mid-April to the end of May (the same Magic Mike tour that also would be a potential clash in Glasgow) and trumps the Hydro in both capacity and accessibility being set adjacent to Victoria train station. That Manchester arena though has one downside in that it is on the older side being built in 1995 and if this was 2024 Manchester would be a dead cert with a brand new arena set to open in late 2023.

Ultimately I believe the community are correct currently in assuming that it is a two horse race between Manchester and Glasgow. I suspect much of the final decision will come from not just the battlegrounds laid out here but also the commitment of the cities in putting forward an expansive bid that makes it an iconic Eurovision. To throw out some crazy suggestions, could Manchester Council let their 10,000 capacity Conference Centre become a EuroClub, or would the Scottish government ship the Opening Ceremony to Edinburgh to walk down the Royal Mile. A USP like either of the two above could be the game changer that we would not be privy to.

Ultimately, there is a huge word of caution in gambling on what is ultimately a boardroom decision within the BBC and this is the type of news we would expect to leak out in the days before the final decision is announced. However the view of the BetEurovision team is that this is a two-horse race and, with that conclusion in mind, the tip has to be a punt on Manchester. Betway’s 8.0 is likely to only offer tiny stakes but Smarkets (5.2) and Ladbrokes (4.5) are good value at this stage.

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