It’s great news that England is going to bid for the 2018 football World Cup. There was unseemly haste today to close the door on a UK bid which I think was a bit sad given the quality of the stadia and fan support in Scotland and Wales. But at last our sporting associations and the Gov are starting to believe in the benefits of such major events coming to the UK. First benefit – we wouldn’t have to qualify (and indirectly that would justify the FA’s decision to appoint McClaren as team manger). But jokes aside it is a good thing even though it will be extremely tough to win the decision with expected competition from Australia (the best ever-hosted Olympics under their belt), China (amazing stadia and proven Olympics -maybe!), Russia (huge resources and surely their turn to host something big), US (always put on a good revenue-delivering show and football still needs to establish a foothold post Beckham), Neths/Belgium joint bid (the perfect location for such a description!).
So as someone who is a mad football fan, who watched the 1966 final by himself and cried at the end of it and who was involved with the Euro ’96 event here and as a Premier Partner backer for the 2012 Bid I can honestly say I’m all for it. This is the way to help pay off new Wembley early. But I was a little amused by the feature in the Daily Telegraph today about the so-called dream team to lead the WC Bid.
I don’t know if you saw it but there was a lot of referencing to the 2012 Bid formation – high-profile sports personality backed up by smart business leader; the Coe-Mills model. But I have to tell you it wasn’t such a classic model with 2012. London won the right to contest as a short-listed candidate city under the American business-woman Barbara Cassani. Lord Coe was brought in latterly to head the challenge once it became apparent that out of the 5 short-listed cities London was a distant 3rd in the IOC rankings. From someone who was there as a worried backer I have to tell you Coe’s first appearances as face of the Bid were horribly wooden. He is a bit of a cold fish too. Although undoubtedly well-connected he needed melding into the role. Mills was a brilliant real leader (backed up by a massively personally-committed, supportive and influential PM in the end) who wisely left the ultimate highly-visual steps to a polished and inspired Coe.
To simply say do exactly the same is surely too simple. The event is entirely different, as is the context, the sport, the politics, the history – almost everything. The Daily Telegraph’s team is flawed even now. They talk about Coe again. Let him get on with the Games; he’s got no football credibility. Gary Lineker as lead sports personality. Are you serious? Sir Bobby again. He was part of two failed Manchester bids for the Olympics etc – lovely character but not the A team. David Beckham; was influential in Singapore but has his time come and gone? Another decent member of the support team. Prince William, ok if he really commits but I suspect family duties will be taking a fuller role by then. Brian Barwick/Geoff Thompson FA representatives – it’s not the glitter twins is it? John Barnes because ‘he’d be highly popular in the Caribbean’. Is that Daily Tel speak for only black guy we can have in the team? So f*cking patronising. Bill Kenwright – bit too luvvie? Michael Grade – would he be lobbying for ITV to get the TV rights? Karren Brady – token woman? But now you’re talking. She’d charm the pants of those FIFA stuffed shirts. Richard Caborn – ok but a bit t’Yorkshire.
Tongue-in-cheek they’ve suggested a back up team of Vinnie Jones (it wasn’t exactly the beautiful game he played), Ozzie Osborne (yep – our expert on relaxants no doubt), Al Murray (first class entertainment officer and his views on women, the French, Germans bound to have a positive impact), Boris Johnston (he’d be too busy shagging the delegates wives), Hugh Grant (ditto) and Sir Elton John (could actually work).
So who would I have? Top of my head:
from football: Arsene Wenger, Ian Wright, Gordon Banks, Wayne Rooney, Faye White (capt of women’s national team), Teddy Sheringham, DB I guess
from FA: as few as poss
from business: Peter Erskine (O2), David Dein, David Gill, Karren Brady
from politics: Tony Blair, Paddy Ashdown, Richard Caborn, Oona King
from the world of celebrity: Kate Middleton, Jamie Oliver, Simon Cowell, Dawn French
from the world of sport: Freddy Flintoff, Will Greenwood, Lawrence Dallaglio, Monty Panasar, Mark Ramprakash, Lewis Hamilton, Zara Philipps
And maybe a man of the people with lots of marketing experience and involvement in major events /Bids, a passionate fan and observer English football, of indeterminate years though sporting a dramatic ‘we don’t care’ hair style, of considerable physical stature and the ability to handle (if not lead) all that late-night schmoozing. God knows where they’ll find such a man….
ps sure you can come up with lots of better suggestions