Liverpool to host Eurovision – but who will pay?

Liverpool will host the Eurovision Song Contest in 2023 with the decision announced by Graham Norton on BBC1 on Friday evening – but who will pay for it? Tony McDonough reports

Kalush Orchestra
Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra were the winners of Eurovision in 2022. Picture from Eurovision


Liverpool will host the Eurovision Song Contest in May 2023 after pipping Glasgow in an enthralling contest.

In late September it was announced the two cities would battle it out for the right to host the Europe-wide TV extravaganza. Originally due to be held in Ukraine, the annual contest is switching to the UK following the Russian invasion and the ongoing war.

Liverpool was first told it was on the seven-strong shortlist in August. Other cities eliminated from the contest were Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield. There were originally 20 bids from across the UK.

Early on Friday evening Graham Norton, the BBC’s regular Eurovision presenter, announced Liverpool as the winner on BBC1’s The One Show. On hearing the news Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson said: “I’m over the moon that Eurovision is coming to Liverpool.

“We knew that we faced strong competition from Glasgow, but we also knew that we had a great bid underpinned by the expertise of our award-winning Culture Liverpool team and supported by all our brilliant partners.

“This is a massive event and the eyes of the world will be on us in May, especially those of our friends in Ukraine. Now begins months of work to put on the best party ever. Ukraine – you have my promise we will do you proud.”

Earlier in the day Cllr Harry Doyle, the city’s Cabinet Member for Culture & Visitor Economy, tweeted a thread where he talked about the work involved in pulling together the bid. He said: “It’s been a hell of a few months.”

He was full of praise for the team at Culture Liverpool headed by Liverpool’s director of culture, Claire McColgan, adding: “They have pulled our bid together and gone above and beyond.”

Cllr Doyle also mentioned the Ukrainian coastal city of Odesa, now twinned with Liverpool. He said: “Our twin city, Odesa. A fellow port city on the south coast of Ukraine that is currently fighting for its land.

“This has pulled our cities together and will continue to. Their backing has been the most important because this is for them.”

Claire McColgan added: “This feels like our European Capital of Culture win all over again – I’m (almost) lost for words, but not quite. It has been a whirlwind few months where we have spent hundreds upon hundreds of hours devising a meaningful, thought-provoking bid which is energising, inspiring and pays homage to the Ukraine and its incredible people.

“It will be an extraordinary time and we can’t wait for the next part of the journey.”

Eurovision will be staged at the M&S Bank Arena, part of the city council-owned ACC Liverpool complex on the banks of the Mersey. Hosting the event on May 13 will be a huge logistical challenge for Liverpool. It will also cost a lot of money.


The M&S Bank Arena will be the venue for Eurovision
Claire McColgan
Claire McColgan is director of Culture Liverpool and is behind the Eurovision bid


There is not a single definitive cost but previous shows typically have cost between €15 and €30m. In 2014 in Copenhagen it cost €25m but in Stockholm in 2014 it was delivered for a relatively modest €14m. However, in Tel Aviv in 2019 the cost was €28m. So who pays?

According to Eurovision itself the bulk of the costs – typically between €10m and €20m are shouldered by the host broadcaster. In the case of the UK this is the BBC. Other European broadcasters will also chip in around €6m via the European Broadcasting Union.

Host cities are usually expected to make some financial contribution. However, following a decade of austerity Liverpool City Council is in financial dire straits. Any public money spent on Eurovision by the council would be a tough sell politically while people across the city struggle with the cost of living.

When it was announced Ukraine would be unable to host the competition the Government, via the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport was keen to step in to host Eurovision. Liverpool will be hoping they will be equally as keen to help pay for it.

The Mayor of Odesa, Gennadiy Trukhanov also said: “It is a matter of great pleasure to know that the bid of Liverpool, our sister city, to host the Eurovision Contest in 2023 is successful.

“Your city is worthy of that as it embodies the colourfulness and brightness of entire Europe. You definitely know how to make the world dance and sing along with you.

“Next year all musical roads of Europe will lead to your city, and we are happy that not only Eurovision contest will decorate Liverpool, but the city itself will adorn the event too. All of Odesa is looking forward to literally hearing from you.”

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