On Thursday, England will find out if years of campaigning have been enough to see them announced as the host of the 2018 World Cup. With stiff competition from the likes of Russia and a joint bid from Spain and Portugal, there is plenty of work to be done if England are to host the tournament for the first time since 1966. But if they are successful what impact will the tournament have on the Premier League?
Probably the most visible impact of a successful bid would be an improvement to several Premier League grounds. Sunderland, Aston Villa, Newcastle and Manchester City could all be in line for stadium expansions if the bid is successful, while Liverpool could get help in the development of a new stadium.
There will also be a real improvement in the training facilities of dozens of clubs in England, as they look to be the base for the 31 countries that would arrive in the summer of 2018. This could only be good for the long term development of English football, as players benefit from better facilities.
Long term improvements is something often talked about with World Cup bids, as countries look to promote the ‘Legacy’ that the tournament will create. In many ways English football is still benefiting from the legacy created from Euro 96. This was the tournament when England fans were finally able to portray a non aggressive image to the world, after years of association with hooliganism.
A similar legacy would be a massive boost to Premier League football and could really boost some of the dwindling attendances we see in the league. A World Cup would generate massive interest in the game, and which could only boost the numbers of fans who attend matches. This in turn could help in attracting more of the world’s best players to the Premier League as they look to be part of the buzz surrounding football in England.
So the advantages to the Premier League are there, but in reality England is really facing a struggle to persuade the FIFA delegates that they are the best option to host the tournament, and if England do lose out could this have a detrimental effect on the league?
In my opinion no, because in many ways I think none of us will be particularly surprised if the England bid is unsuccessful. I don’t think the league needs England to host the World Cup, it would be nice if it happened, but the Premier League will cope perfectly well if FIFA send the World Cup to Russia for example.