2010/11: World Cup 2018 – Back the Bid D-day 100 days to go
Tuesday 24th August 2010. What does that date mean to football fans? Well for those supporters with clubs still in the League Cup, it’ll be all about tonight’s fixtures.
But there is another reason why I mention this date, it marks 100 days to the decision (which is to be made on December 2nd 2010), by FIFA in selecting the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. The FIFA delegates arrived yesterday and will be in England until August 26th assessing the England Bid and visiting London, Manchester, Sunderland and Newcastle. Today has been designated as “Wear Your Shirt To Work Day” to show the countrywide support for the bid and to get people to sign up to the England Back the Bid Campaign.
It raises all the usual questions though about how fans view the “club v country” debate. For many fans it is all about the success of their club with interest in the National side a long way back in second place and only generally evident when the side is involved in a World Cup or European Championship Tournament. England’s recent showing in South Africa did little to endear themselves to those with only a passing concern for Capello’s team.
The Bid plays strongly on the fact that England has a great football heritage with a country fanatical about its National game. It is true that each week during the season, thousands up and down the country get out to games. However, is there the appetite for International Football? Would crowds turn out for World Cup games featuring New Zealand v Paraguay? I have my club that I support, but I also love to attend games that don’t involve my club or even my country. How many fans up and down the country would do the same? I remember attending a Group game between Spain and Romania at Euro 96 at Elland Road, where the crowd was just fewer than 33,000. St James Park shared the Group B games with Elland Road and the three games in Newcastle were attended by crowds of 19.107, 26,323 and 26,976. The story of unfilled grounds (even in the Quarter and Semi Finals) was a common feature of the tournament. Sell outs were generally limited to the games featuring England. Would 2018 be any different?
In Leeds, are the residents of the City and its fans excited by the prospect of Elland Road being unique in being able to host three different sports at World Cup level? 2013 and 2015 see the Rugby League and then Rugby Union World Cups staged in England and the hat-trick would be complete by the football equivalent in 2018. For Elland Road to be able to host Group games in 2018 a ground capacity of 45,000 would be required and for Quarter Finals 60,000. So if England is successful, there is work to do. This is likely to include the redevelopment of the Kop to increase capacity and rebuilding of the West Stand. It appears that the plan is for the majority of the work to be carried out before the 2015 in time for the Rugby Union World Cup. However, this would affect the capacity at Elland Road during the work. Now if Leeds were back in the Premier League for the start of the 2012/2013 season, I would imagine that the ground would be reduced to a 30,000 capacity. How would that sit with the Chairman and the prospect of reduced revenue coming into the club? Leeds United would be left with the legacy of an increased capacity stadium with better facilities – is that enough for you to “Back the Bid”? http://www.england2018bid.com/