Olympic Stadium selected for World Cup bid

LONDON - London's 2012 Olympic Stadium could stage matches during the 2018 World Cup if England wins the right to host the tournament, bid organisers said on Wednesday.

Brian Mawhinney, chairman of the Host City selection panel, named 17 stadiums in 12 candidate cities and towns as potential venues should FIFA award the 2018 event to England at next December's vote.

The possible venues include Wembley Stadium and Arsenal's Emirates Stadium in London, with either Tottenham Hotspur's new White Hart Lane stadium or the 2012 Olympic Stadium to be added at a later date.

The list will eventually be reduced to around 10 or 12 stadiums by FIFA who have the final say and will decide on the host nation in Zurich next December.

Mawhinney said matches could also be played at Sunderland (Stadium of Light), Birmingham (Villa Park), Manchester (Old Trafford and City of Manchester Stadium), Nottingham (new Nottingham Forest stadium), Leeds (Elland Road), Sheffield (Hillsborough), Newcastle/Gateshead (St James' Park), Bristol (new Ashton Vale stadium), Plymouth (Home Park), Liverpool (Anfield or new Anfield) and Milton Keynes (Stadium MK).

Bids from Hull, Derby and Leicester failed to make the list, while the selection panel also decided against using Everton's Goodison Park, Bramall Lane in Sheffield and Birmingham City's St Andrews ground.

"We have chosen the venues that will offer the lowest possible risk to FIFA," Mawhinney told reporters.

"In our view the present Anfield in Liverpool with some modifications and modernisation would be adequate.

"Liverpool have aspirations for a new stadium but their time frame does not coincide with ours. So we have put in both.

"Likewise, with Tottenham's new White Hart Lane ground and the Olympic Stadium. We have seen pictures of the new White Hart Lane stadium and it will be splendid but at the moment it is at the planning stage.


The cities named on Wednesday will be presented as part of England's final submission to soccer's world governing body FIFA on May 14.

"The Olympic Stadium debate is still going on and we are not in charge of that. There are those who think it should be an 80,000-seater stadium after 2012 catering for events that are commensurate for a stadium of that capacity," Mawhinney said.

"Others that it should be cut back to 25,000, but we don't get to make that decision."

The venues of Plymouth, Bristol and Milton Keynes are not traditional football strongholds but he said one of the aims of the bid committee was to spread matches around the country and all deserved to be included in the list.

Between them the candidate cities have made more than 300 million pounds worth of financial guarantees towards the World Cup if it comes to England with 100 million towards legacy and urban regeneration projects.

The funding is in addition to the 300 million pounds of FIFA-required guarantees signed off by the British government on Tuesday.

England is one of 10 bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups which will be jointly announced by FIFA next year.

Australia, Netherlands/Belgium, Russia, Japan, United