Page last updated at 23:46 GMT, Tuesday, 16 March 2010

England 2018 football World Cup bid puts business case

By Bill Wilson
Business reporter, BBC News

Andy Anson, chief executive of the England 2018 World Cup bid
Andy Anson is looking for some more big name business partners

In a long career in business, Andy Anson, the chief executive of the England 2018 World Cup bid, has been involved in selling such English icons as Winnie the Pooh and Manchester United.

The first came when he was employed at Disney's consumer products division, and the latter when he was commercial director at Old Trafford.

But he has perhaps never faced such a challenging nine months as the ones ahead, which lead up to the decision by Fifa this December about which country will stage the 2018 World Cup.

During that time he has to convince the 24 Fifa executive committee members that England can stage a commercially successful, safe World Cup, that will leave a sporting and social legacy.

Oldham-born Mr Anson also has to show there is public backing from the grass roots, through the professional club football, right up to the business sector.

"It is going to be really hard work from now on, it is going to be very competitive, so we have to be very focused," Mr Anson said at a Sport Industry Group get-together of top business people in London.

"We have our strategy, and I am confident we can do it."

Business partners wanted

Part of that strategy is showing Fifa that the England bid will not only be commercially successful, but has an engaged business sector backing the bid.

So far PriceWaterhouseCoopers, BT, Morrisons and NPower have signed up as corporate partners.

"We would like to have a couple more top level partners… ahead of the bid decision," Mr Anson says.

He says it is not about bringing in more money for the bid, but that gaining extra commercial partners would further "show a commitment" from UK business.

"We have already signed up people who have helped us an awful lot," he says.

"And we are making Fifa aware that we have these companies that want to be a part of our bid."

And, despite Fifa having its own roster of big name sponsors, Mr Anson says that the world football governing body is open to the idea that the England bid team is putting together its own group of sponsors.

"They are pretty relaxed about that, as long as there has been no history of ambush marketing," he says.

And he says it is to England's advantage that there is already legislation in place for the London 2012 Olympics to tackle ambush marketing, which is when a firm tries to create a commercial connection with a sporting event even though it is not an official sponsor.

'Stadiums in place'

Meanwhile, the England bid - whose final document has to be with Fifa by May - starts from a "fantastic position" believes Anson.

"The stadiums are in place, and extensions to stadiums are going to be done by the clubs themselves, who are paying for the work," says the keen Manchester United fan.

David Beckham
David Beckham is among the big names backing England's bid

Among other advantages he also feels that England's diverse cultural make-up means that every country playing in the World Cup here would have a "home from home".

"We are a very welcoming society too," he says, pointing out the potential tourist benefits of securing 2018.

"The more people we can get to stay in our country for longer, the more money our country will make."

He also says the bid will have a sustainability strand, with ticket holders able to attend matches by public transport, among other green initiatives.

And, as well as a legacy of upgraded stadiums and city infrastructures, he also hopes to see football development and social development programmes spring up around a World Cup in England.

Ticketing 'stretch'

While there is no central government funding around the event each host city has undertaken to meet the bill for the event in their area.

For a city with one stadium, such as Newcastle, that cost is estimated at £15m, which includes the cost of everything from fan festivals to "overlaying" the stadium - putting in media centres and seating, hospitality areas, accreditation centres and signage.

The stadium owners - in almost every case the professional football club which plays there - will get 10% to 15% of ticketing revenues returned to them.

A World Cup in England would be the most commercially successful ever
Andy Anson, chief executive of the England 2018 World Cup bid

Mr Anson also says that as part of its bid the England team is going to try and get as much "stretch" into its World Cup ticket prices - that is, have a broad difference in terms of cost between the cheapest and most expensive tickets.

"We have to show Fifa that we can make a lot of money from ticketing," says Mr Anson.

"There will be a big chunk of tickets at 'entry level', going up to higher pricing - we are trying to come up with a good mix."

He said that the average Premier League ticket price of £39 would be used when calculating ticket prices, with ticket monies being used towards the cost of staging the World Cup.

Meanwhile, each host city has also put between £10,000 and £15,000 into a joint marketing pot for the bid.

Beckham 'magic'

Mr Anson believes that with two high-cost, demanding World Cups in South Africa and Brazil in 2010 and 2014, that when it comes to 2018 and 2022 Fifa will be looking for a significant commercial return.

"A World Cup in England would be the most commercially successful ever," he says.

"That is very important for Fifa, as the World Cup is how they fund all their other events."

The England bid document has to be in by 14 May with Fifa, and Mr Anson says that, with a General Election likely before then, he has secured the backing of the three main political parties for the bid.

There is also support from the FA, Premier League and Football League.

However, what about that most iconic of bid supporters - the recently crocked David Beckham?

"He is a major, major sporting icon, who has done everything we have asked of him so far.

"We won't get in the way of his recovery. We also don't want to overuse him, but want him to come in at key moments to work his magic."

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