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Page last updated at 18:09 GMT, Wednesday, 13 May 2009 19:09 UK

Venues may hamper England's bid

Arsenal's stadium
Arsenal's new stadium is being touted as a Rugby World Cup venue

By James Munro
BBC sports news correspondent

England's ambitious plans to use some of the Premier League's best stadia to stage games during the 2015 Rugby World Cup could face tough challenges over access and advertising rights.

That is because the tournament is expected to take place in September and October, one of the busiest and most important times of the football season.

Not only will the top teams in England be vying for early Premier League supremacy, they will be fighting in out in Europe, in both the Champions League and Europa League.

Now, a lot could happen between now and 2015, but Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal - whose stadia form part of the Rugby Football Union's bid - are highly likely to be involved in European competition.

That means Old Trafford, Anfield and the Emirates Stadium will be in high demand before the Rugby World Cup comes to town.

What makes any potential tie-up all the more complex is that any stadium involved in the World Cup comes under the control of the International Rugby Board. Or at least it has done in the past.

We do have a very comprehensive plan on how we will deliver those stadiums without risk for the RWC and how that will dovetail with the soccer programme in 2015

RFU chief executive Francis Baron

According to an IRB spokeswoman, control of the stadium is handed over to the Rugby World Cup organisers 10 days before the first game at that venue and handed back two days after its final match.

"That's been our previous position, although it may be up for negotiation," added the spokeswoman.

The IRB also insist on "clean" venues, free of any advertising that might run contrary to their own sponsor partnerships.

That could mean that the Emirates Stadium, which would host pool matches and the bronze match for the losing semi-finalists, has to be renamed for the duration of the tournament.

There are the requirements of the Champions League to negotiate, too.

Uefa requires control of a venue two days before a Champions League match, again to help ensure that its own advertising material is in place.

The logistical challenges should not be underestimated.

However, organisers of the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France faced similar obstacles and were able to overcome them.

Marseille's Stade Velodrome
Marseille's stadium hosted Champions League football and the World Cup in 2007

As for the RFU, it is confident it has the backing of the Football Association, the Premier League and the clubs involved.

"We have spent a lot of time working very closely with the FA and the Premier League clubs," said RFU chief executive Francis Baron.

"We wanted to make sure that, before we put in a bid, we had nailed down all those issues.

"We do have a very comprehensive plan on how we will deliver those stadiums without risk for the RWC and how that will dovetail with the soccer programme in 2015.

"We have spent a hell of a lot of time sorting that out and I am delighted to say we have a very robust plan which we can deliver on."

The RFU's 30-minute presentation in Dublin on Wednesday appears to have gone down well with the IRB Council.


Its business plan, based on a target of selling three million tickets, and government support will be strong selling points in a difficult economic climate, while Will Greenwood's comments about grassroots rugby also appear to strike a chord with IRB Council members.

However, Italy, Japan and South Africa will be formidable opponents, as Rugby World Cup Ltd chairman Bernard Lapasset acknowledged.

He said the quality of all four presentations had been "extremely high".

Of course, England are only bidding to stage the 2015 event. Italy, Japan and South Africa have put in applications for the 2019 tournament as well.

Yet the South Africans are keen to secure the tournament in 2015 in order to build on the momentum generated from the football World Cup, which they will stage next year.

If England can convince the council that their plans for 2015 stand up to scrutiny, though, they will be the favourites when voting takes place on 28 July.

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see also
Football grounds part of 2015 bid
13 May 09 |  English
England to bid for 2015 World Cup
05 May 09 |  English
RFU reveals World Cup pledge fear
30 Apr 09 |  English
Ireland opt out of 2015 bidding
01 May 09 |  Rugby Union
Scotland pull out of RWC 2015 bid
29 Apr 09 |  Rugby Union
Australia ends 2015 World Cup bid
20 Apr 09 |  Rugby Union
England meet Scots in World Cup
01 Dec 08 |  Rugby Union
England may withdraw 2015 Cup bid
30 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union
England weigh up 2015 bid options
01 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union
Scots look to co-host World Cup
01 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union
Wales confirm World Cup bid plans
01 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union

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