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French hopeful of having 10 stadiums for Euro 2016

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PARIS (AP) -Ten stadiums, one more than required, will be ready for the European Championship in 2016, says French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet.

French organizers need a minimum of nine stadiums for the tournament, which will be expanded from 16 teams to 24.

Eight are on track to be refurbished by late 2014 or June 2015, and Le Graet is confident Lens will fully renovate its existing stadium and Lyon will successfully build a gleaming new one in time.

"We're on track, even if one or two stadiums are a bit behind," Le Graet said on Tuesday at a tournament planning meeting in Paris. "Everything will be ready within the deadlines set by UEFA."

Seven-time French champion Lyon is moving out of the 41,000-seat Stade Gerland to the 58,000-seat Stade des Lumieres. Planning permission has been granted and it is expected to be ready for the 2015-16 season at an estimated cost of ?381 million through private funding.

Stade de France needs only minor improvements, Lille already has moved into its new 50,000-seat stadium, and renovation on Marseille's new-look 65,000-capacity Stade Velodrome is well under way.

Bordeaux (42,000), Nice (35,000), Saint-Etienne (41,500), Toulouse (33,000) and the Parc des Princes in Paris (45,000) also need extensive renovation to increase capacity. The stadiums in Lens (39,000), Paris and Toulouse are yet to finalise deals for construction work.

French Sports Minister Valerie Fourneyron said the government will contribute ?160 million to help stadium renovations.

"We have a challenge ahead," she said. "The measure of success will be for everyone to feel involved."

Improvements to the Parc des Princes - home to big-spending Paris Saint-Germain - will also be privately funded.

The work at Lens, Saint-Etienne and Toulouse will be publicly funded. Funding on the stadiums in Bordeaux, Marseille and Nice will be shared between the public and private sectors.

France has recent experience of hosting major events, including the 2007 Rugby World Cup and football's 1998 World Cup - although it missed out to London for the hugely successful 2012 Olympic Games.

UEFA President Michel Platini says his organization will handle all of the tournament's financial costs, with the exception of stadium funding and security - which is the French government's responsibility in tandem with the FFF.

France last hosted the Euro in 1984, when Platini scored a tournament record nine goals from midfield to lead the home side to the title.

Platini, who also attended the planning meeting, again praised co-hosts Ukraine and Poland for Euro 2012.

"It was a fantastic tournament, a success beyond all expectations," Platini said. "We left an important heritage behind for both countries, not just in terms of sporting infrastructure. The bar has been set high for France 2016."

The planning committee plans to meet up to three times a year, Platini said.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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