Potentially within days, but certainly within weeks, we’ll know for certain if the Commonwealth Games are imminently returning to Scottish shores.

By the end of the month the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) should have announced, definitively, the host city for the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

The fact we’re in May 2024 and no host city has yet been determined says all you need to know about the state of these Games.

It’s been well-documented, including in these pages, just how difficult it’s been for the CGF to find a host for the event in two years’ time.

Frankly, no one wants it.

The list of withdrawals as hosts is lengthy – several Australian cities and states, Singapore and Malaysia have all ruled themselves out in recent months alone, to add to the others who had previously yanked themselves out of the running – which has contributed to the position the Commonwealth Games is in now; with two years to go, the 2026 edition remains homeless.

Given the success of Glasgow 2014, it’s hardly surprising that many in this country look fondly upon the Commonwealth Games, a fact that likely contributed to the offer from Commonwealth Games Scotland to host the 2026 Games if no other host can be found.

With the clock ticking so loudly it’s now becoming deafening, it’s looking increasingly likely that the 2026 Commonwealth Games will indeed be heading back to Glasgow not because of any spectacular winning bid but rather, because no one else will touch it with a bargepole.

I remain entirely split about whether or not the return of the Commonwealth Games to Scotland would be a good thing or not.

Glasgow 2014 was, undeniably, an overwhelming success.

Glasgow Times:

From the almost flawless running of the event to the impressive quality of athletes that competed – by Commonwealth standards, anyway – to the impact it had on the city, by the end of the 11 days of competition, the vast majority of Scots had been convinced that hosting Glasgow 2014 had been well worthwhile.

But in considering whether or not we should welcome the 2026 Games to Scotland, almost all comparisons to Glasgow 2014 should be thrown straight in the bin.

The 2026 Games, if they do indeed return to Scotland, will look entirely different from the Games that took Scotland by storm in 2014.

Firstly, the preparation time is now miniscule. There’s a reason why major, multi-sport events are typically allocated a host around seven years in advance and that’s because that’s how long it takes to prepare adequately for an event of that scale.

And secondly, the budget for 2026 will be a fraction of that for Glasgow 2014.

The final cost of hosting Glasgow 2014 came in at around £543 million.

It’s estimated the budget for the 2026 Games, if it does come to Scotland, will be £130-£150 million.

Such a decrease in budget cannot be masked.

Admittedly, much of the money for Glasgow 2014 went on building facilities, something which would not be required for 2026; the advantage being this time around that existing facilities could be used, with the exception of an athletics track, which would need to be built (a temporary track was assembled in Hampden Stadium for Glasgow 2014).

And existing accommodation would be used for the Athletes’ Village.

But don’t be fooled into thinking a truly world-class event could be put on in such a short timescale, with such a limited budget.

Commonwealth Games Scotland, in its offer to the CGF to salvage the 2026 Games, stressed the sporting programme would include only between 10 and 13 sports, significantly fewer than the 20 sports on the programme at Birmingham 2022. Such a decrease would, clearly, be essential given the financial and time limitations.

So, could it, given the parameters in which Scotland would host the 2026 Games, be a success?

I have to admit, I’m extremely sceptical, although perhaps that’s unfair.

Having competed as an athlete at three Commonwealth Games, I know first-hand, how thrilling an event it can be, and Glasgow has both the infrastructure and expertise to have a good stab at making 2026 a success.

Similarly, for all the criticism, including from myself, about the Commonwealth Games being a second-tier sporting event that comes with a top-tier price tag, it doesn’t necessarily have to be delivered at a financial loss.

The 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham cost almost £780 million and a recent evaluation report by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said the event contributed almost £1.2 billion to the UK economy

That’s not a bad return by anyone’s standards.

So, given the financial success of Birmingham 2022, hosting the Commonwealth Games does not need to be a negative exercise; it can, in fact, if done efficiently, be an entirely worthwhile event for a city.

And that’s before we consider the incalculable factors such as engaging people with sport and encouraging people, and especially kids, to become more active. 

The major issue for me with the 2026 Games coming to Glasgow is that the Commonwealth Games is, by any estimation, a dying brand. 

I don’t think it’s outlandish to suggest that in a decade’s time, there will be no more Commonwealth Games.

Indeed, given the trouble there’s been in finding a host for 2026, the prospect of finding one for 2030, which will be the centenary of the event, seems remote.

So, does Glasgow want to be the city that hosts a scaled-down, on the cheap Commonwealth Games that potentially marks the end of the entire movement?

I can’t see the impact of Glasgow 2026 being even a patch on that of 2014 so the value of hosting the event appears worryingly limited.

Yet, for all my concerns, there remains a significant part of me that would love to see the Commonwealth Games return to Scotland.

Within weeks, we’ll know if it’ll become a reality.