Plymouth bids to host World Cup
PLYMOUTH is bidding to stage World Cup finals matches at a new 40,000-seater stadium, The Herald can reveal.
A consortium led by Plymouth Argyle is to approach the Football Association for inclusion on a list of potential World Cup venues.
It then hopes to be chosen as one of the Host Cities should England be selected to stage either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.
Stadiums must have a capacity of at least 40,000 in order to stage group games so, with Home Park currently holding about half that, it is anticipated the bid will include proposals for a new 40,000-plus-seater stadium in Central Park, plus modern training facilities and investment in transport, hotel and leisure facilities.
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The consortium says it also wants training facilities close to Plymouth, including in South Devon and Cornwall, for teams competing in the finals.
City council leader Cllr Vivien Pengelly said: "A successful bid would have a catalytic impact on the economy and fabric of both Plymouth and the wider region and would bring international football to Devon and Cornwall for the first time in many years."
The bid will be managed by a specially- formed company, Plymouth World Cup Bid Ltd (PWCBL).
It will be independently chaired by Douglas Fletcher, chief executive of the Plymouth and South West Co-operative Society and chairman-designate of the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce.
Also in the consortium are Plymouth City Council, Devon County Council, Cornwall Council, the University of Plymouth and the Plymouth City Development Company.
Proposals must be submitted to the FA by November and successful Host Cities will be announced early next year.
Fifteen cities, some with more than one stadium, have already applied.
They are Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Newcastle/ Gateshead, Nottingham, Portsmouth, Sheffield and Sunderland.
Fifa has said 'approximately 12' stadiums will be required.
The chosen cities can expect a cash bonanza; visitors to the 2006 World Cup in Germany spent about £1.8billion.
Argyle chairman Sir Roy Gardner said July's boardroom shuffle had prevented the club joining the bidding process earlier.
"We're starting some way behind the other cities, but we've been given the green light by the FA so we're going for it 100 per cent," he said.
World governing body Fifa will decide the destination of the 2018 and 2022 finals by December next year .
England is up against bids from Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, USA, and joint bids from Belgium/Netherlands and Portugal/Spain, while South Korea and Qatar have bid for 2022 only. Bookies have made England the early front runner.
Mr Fletcher said: "Being a Host City would be an enormous honour for the people of Plymouth, and a hugely positive experience for football fans throughout the South West.
"Historically, Devon and Cornwall have been overlooked when major tournaments have come to the UK. We intend to put that right. Having joined the process late, we have to be seen as underdogs, but we're determined to put in a bid the region can be proud of.
"Hosting World Cup football and the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower in 2020 would be two major events that would place Plymouth on the international stage and be hugely significant in helping the city achieve its vision to become one of Europe's most vibrant waterfront cities.
"There would also be significant economic benefits for the region."
University of Plymouth vice-chancellor and chief executive Professor Wendy Purcell said: "Plymouth, as a developing city, is becoming an increasingly vibrant place to live, work and study and this is an opportunity to enable it to fulfil its true potential, showcasing it to the world.
"The consortium is driven by its commitment to leading transformational change in the region and leaving a lasting legacy for future generations."
Plymouth Argyle said the bid fitted in with its plans for developing the footballing and commercial sides of the club.
It said its newly-established board was expected to outline a 'five-year plan' at the end of the year.
Sir Roy said: "We've said we're targeting Premier League football within five years.
"Our Host City bid will give a big boost to our plans for the development of the club and the realisation of this goal.
"We're setting out to establish a new world for the club and the fans. The bid will now form a key part of that."
Argyle press conference at Home Park.