England’s bid to host the World Cup in 2030 has been given a major boost by the European Super League debacle.
FA chiefs have commissioned a feasibility study to look into a joint UK and Republic of Ireland submission to bring football’s biggest tournament home for the first time since 1966.
And with a joint bid by Spain and Portugal regarded as the biggest threat to win UEFA’s backing, the refusal of La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona to back away from the disgraced ESL proposal is seen as a major stumbling block for the World Cup being staged on the Iberian peninsula.
The government’s willingness to open up Wembley for the Euro semi-finals and final to more supporters this summer has also been well received by European football’s governing body in the aftermath of Downing Street’s refusal to get behind the Super League plan when it was announced in April.
FA chief executive Mark Bullingham has confirmed that a bid will be launched – but only if a joint UK and Irish effort is given full UEFA backing. An ill-fated bid for the 2018 tournament cost the FA a staggering £21million.
And Bullingham said: “We’re doing a feasibility study at the moment to ascertain what would a bid look like, what’s the governance of it and, fundamentally, can we win it?
“I think our fundamental question is can we win it, have we got a genuine chance?
“I think all of us would like to host a World Cup here. It would have a massive impact on everything we’re trying to achieve, from grassroots participation to impact on our own finances.
“It would be great. But we’re only going to bid if we can win.”
England won just two of FIFA’s 22 votes as Russia won the right to stage the 2018 World Cup amidst allegations of bribery and corruption.
The process was described as a “stitch up” by one FA figure after disgraced FIFA president Sepp Blatter admitted that an agreement was already in place with the Russians before the vote took place.
Spain and Portugal seemed strong candidates to host the tournament in 2030.
But with both Madrid and Barcelona still refusing to back away from the Super League proposal, it seems impossible to stage games at the redeveloped Bernabeu and Nou Camp.
Bullingham said: “If we decide to bid, the first step of it will effectively be a primary in Europe.
“And you could argue that’s as much of a challenge as actually winning it.
“Spain and Portugal have now announced they are going for it and they would be compelling.
“We would obviously hope if we went for it we would present an even more compelling story.
“UEFA are being very clear they only want one bidder and it makes no sense not to be in that scenario because whoever goes into it from a European point of view does so with 55 votes in the bag.”
Bullingham added: “I think overall our relationship with UEFA, not just from a government point of view, but from a FA point of view is massively important.
“I think we have got lots of credit from lots of different parts of football from around the world for the way in which the European Super League ended – and that’s great.
“We were a key part of that and we’re proud of the role we played.
“I think there were other aspects as well. I think the French and the German club not joining was critical, I think UEFA did a really good job, being really firm early on, and I think our fans were fantastic.”