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Last Updated: Friday, 18 November 2005, 12:34 GMT
England considers World Cup bid
Bobby Moore with World Cup in 1966

The government has taken a first step towards bidding to host the World Cup for the first time since 1966.

Chancellor Gordon Brown said hosting the 2018 World Cup on the heels of the 2012 Olympics would be "a magnificent double for this country".

The government will investigate the costs, benefits and legacy of hosting the tournament, as well as the chances of winning it.

The official decision to stage a bid rests with the Football Association.

Mr Brown described the possible bid as "a commitment to the young people of this country", who, he said, could be inspired by the goal of playing for England in 2018.

Political decision

Lord Stratford - the former sports minister Tony Banks - told the BBC the government could be seen to be pre-empting what should be an FA decision.

The world is brought together by sport
Gordon Brown

"To a certain extent you could say the FA is being bounced into this, but I think they're going to be willingly bounced into it," he told Radio Five Live.

He said it was "interesting" that Gordon Brown was announcing the study.

"I can see Gordon is already looking at his legacy," he said.

Alec McGivan, who spearheaded England's unsuccessful bid for the 2006 World Cup, said the FA would certainly back the bid if the government did.

He said England's last bid had been scuppered by politics, rather than by any doubts about the country's ability to host the tournament.

"What let us down last time was that Uefa - bar one vote - wanted Germany to have the World Cup," he told BBC Radio Five Live.

He said the FA was now better liked within world football than it had been at the time of the 2006 bid.

"England traditionally has been seen as rather arrogant. The FA has learned that lesson, and has won friends and influence as a result," he said.

But he said the European vote could be split if Spain also wanted to host the 2018 tournament.

'Long overdue'

Martin Peters, a star of the 1966 team, joined politicians, representatives of the Football Foundation and officials from South Africa, which is hosting the 2010 World Cup, for the launch in London's East End.

"It's fantastic news," he said.

"I know from the '66 boys we feel it's long, long overdue and we'll be supporting the bid as much as we can."

Assuming we put on a superb Olympics, it would probably be to our advantage - unless the world feels we're getting too much
Alec McGivan

Mr McGivan pointed out that Fifa, football's world governing body, will make its 2018 decision just before the London Olympics.

"Assuming we put on a superb Olympics, it would probably be to our advantage - unless the world feels we're getting too much."

Fifa is expected to announce that the 2018 contest will be staged in Europe.

Next year's finals are in Germany, followed by South Africa in 2010 and then South America, where Brazil are expected to clinch the contest.

'Fantastic event'

FA Chief Executive Brian Barwick welcomed the government study into bidding for the World Cup.

"It would be a fantastic event," he said.

The study will be carried out by the Treasury and DCMS.

Mr Brown said departments concerned with education and urban regeneration would also be involved.

The study will take " a few months", he said.

It will establish the necessary components of a successful bid and assess whether England and the FA are capable of meeting them.

Also considered will be the level of support from the public and football community, what the role of government would be and stadium capacity, both now and after the Olympics.

"You give yourself the best chance by going through stages like this," Tessa Jowell, the secretary for culture, media and sport (DCMS), told Radio Five Live.

"We will look at the legacy of bidding and hosting the World Cup," she said in announcing the study.

"We'll look at the costs. We'll look at the likelihood of winning and we'll look at the benefit that hosting the games will bring, not just to England, but the whole United Kingdom."

Shadow sports minister Hugh Robertson said: "We look forward to more details of the bid but it is essential that any World Cup provides value for money for taxpayers as well as great entertainment for football fans."

Listen to a football analyst consider England's chances

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