Fifa is set to hand England a boost over a possible bid for the 2018 World Cup by changing the rotation policy for the tournament, BBC Sport understands.
England has not hosted the World Cup finals since 1966
The Fifa executive committee meets in Zurich in five weeks, and BBC sports editor Mihir Bose said: "New bidding for 2018 opens the door for England.
"Under the new proposal, it rules out Africa, which stages 2010 and South America, which will stage 2014.
"But the Football Association are not sure they want to bid for it yet."
The current rotation policy favoured by Fifa means the continents take it in turns to host the World Cup.
However, under the new format, only the last two continents which hosted the tournament would be ruled out of the bidding process.
Bose added: "This could mean an Ashes bidding war, if both England and Australia want to try for 2018.
"But any country from Europe, Asia, Concacaf or Oceania could theoretically make a bid."
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has publicly supported the possibility of football's showpiece event coming to England in 11 years' time and has appointed former sports minister Richard Caborn as his World Cup ambassador.
But Bose added: "Fifa has made no decision over 2018, yet Gordon Brown has gone out on a limb and said he is determined to bring the World Cup to England.
"I've spoken to people inside Fifa and they are asking why he's launched a bid when there isn't even a bid to be launched.
"The problem the FA has got is that they want to know they are going to be successful before they launch a bid.
"It is still possible a bid will not be made - it has to be made by the FA after all, not the government."