Anson: England 2018 bid makes commercial sense

SINGAPORE - England can provide the "most commercially successful World Cup ever" if they are chosen to host the 2018 edition, the country's bid chief executive Andy Anson has told Reuters.

Anson was speaking in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Thursday prior to a meeting on Friday with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) executive committee including president Mohamed Bin Hammam.

"One of our key messages is that if you have the World Cup in England in 2018 it will be the most commercially successful World Cup ever," Anson told Reuters.

Anson pointed out the passionate support of English fans, at home and in Asia, as the reason they were able to attract a number of key sponsorships during the global recession.

"Last year was probably the toughest sponsorship year we have seen in sport in a very long time, the fact that we have come out of that with four or five really high-profile sponsorship deals says a lot about the feeling in England for this bid.

"Everyone is absolutely passionate about it and that has been reflected in the fact that major companies are stepping up and putting money into the bid...

"More than that, they are doing some very, very helpful activation and that is great because it demonstrates genuine support and I think it shows FIFA."

England, who won the World Cup the only time they hosted the competition in 1966, are competing with Australia, Japan, Russia, America and the joint bids of Spain/Portugal and Belgium/Holland for the right to host the 2018 event.

Asia provide four FIFA members who will vote on the hosts with the decision on the location, and of the 2022 World Cup, being made in December.


Anson and his team were the only bid team that were invited to present in front of the AFC members and handed signed England, Manchester United and Arsenal shirts to Bin Hammam and his team.

"I think we have traditionally very deep and very strong relationships between English football and the Asian football community.

"We have seen that with the way the clubs are being represented out here, we have seen that with the strong support for English clubs out here and also the English national team.

Because the England bid will not feature any purposely built stadiums, Anson said the team were focusing on providing social and football development programmes in less privileged areas as a legacy, should they be successful.

"We feel very strongly... if it comes to England in 2018 to be as much about what the rest of the world gets out of it as what we get out of it.

"Our legacy will be about what we can give back to the world. How we can do something significant working with FIFA."

Anson said that the bid had not been affected by the resignation of Football Association (FA) chief executive Ian Watmore, who quit last week.

"From a day-to-day perspective it doesn't affect us at all," Anson said.

"He has only been around for eight months anyway so it is not like everyone knows him, he is not seen as the face of the bid and the people who have been meeting are (international bid president) David Dein, (bid chairman) Lord Triesman, myself, (advisor) David Gill.