Following Boris Johnson’s announcement that the government is keen to see the 2030 FIFA World Cup be hosted across the five nations of the British Isles, we take a somewhat light-hearted look at what such a tournament would look like.
The UK government has pledged £2.8m to kickstart the process and is combined with high levels of enthusiasm from all respective football associations. The tournament would be the second in a row where there are multiple host nations, meaning the UK and Ireland’s bid is not a particularly unusual concept, despite its obvious complexities. There is likely to be intense competition coming from South America; as Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Chile pool together to host the tournament.
Previously, England has failed to secure a World Cup Finals since 1966, having missed out on both 2006 and 2018 games. The failure of the latter cost the FA an estimated £21million. Despite its uncertainty, the Prime Minister has ignited fan excitement; cleverly tweeting his desire to ‘bring football home in 2030’. We’ve been here before, and the likely disappointment that is to follow will hurt football fanatics across the 5 nations. But there is no harm in being optimistic and truly believing, 2030 is the year football might finally come home.
it is expected that around 16 venues would be required to host the tournament. As the birthplace of football, there is little shortage of venues across the 5 nations
The tournament would likely be unique in many ways. By 2030, the FIFA World Cup will contain 48 teams, therefore it is expected that around 16 venues would be required to host the tournament. As the birthplace of football, there is little shortage of venues across the 5 nations. However, FIFA regulations may mean the majority of the action would unfold on English soil.
As to be expected, Wembley would most likely act as the hub for the tournament. With a capacity of around 90,000, we can predict this would host the climax of the World Cup Final. Other venue possibilities in the capital include the newly built Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, The Emirates, and The London Stadium (the London 2012 Olympic Stadium, currently the home to West Ham United).
Aston Villa have been the most vocal of the prospective hosts, offering full support for a bid and a commitment to redevelop Villa Park to guarantee it meets FIFA guidelines. Being the largest stadium in the English Midlands (seating 42,729) it would be likely that Villa Park would act as the second city’s venue for the tournament, as it did in 1966.
Manchester United’s Old Trafford, Liverpool’s Anfield, and St James’ Park in Newcastle would all be suitable [stadium] choices
Elsewhere in England, as included in England’s 2018 World Cup bid, it is likely Manchester United’s Old Trafford, Liverpool’s Anfield, and St James’ Park in Newcastle would all be suitable choices. Other possibilities could include The Stadium of Light (Sunderland), Hillsborough (Sheffield), City Ground (Nottingham), Elland Road (Leeds), and Stadium MK (Milton Keynes). The likelihood is that many of the aforementioned stadiums would require extensive redevelopment to ensure eligibility under FIFA venue guidelines.
North of the border could present difficulties. The fierce rivalry between Rangers and Celtic will likely lead to both Celtic Park and Ibrox being excluded from selected venues. Instead, Hampden Park would step in as Glasgow’s entry, with the national rugby stadium, Murrayfield (Edinburgh) another likely host.
Wales is slightly simpler. The 75,000-seater Millennium Stadium in Cardiff being the only realistic option. The stadium played host to the 2017 Champions League Final and is a breath-taking sporting arena. It can be imagined; Cardiff would host to a semi-final event.
The Northern Irish Football Association, alongside the UK government, would likely have to invest big to ensure Belfast would be able to fulfil FIFA expectations and host a game in any tournament
Across the Irish Sea, Dublin would undoubtedly be a popular destination for travelling supporters. The Aviva Stadium provides an elite sporting venue and the city’s vibrancy would likely complement the expected World Cup fever (perhaps as long as the English aren’t playing!).
The Northern Irish Football Association, alongside the UK government, would likely have to invest big to ensure Belfast would be able to fulfil FIFA expectations and host a game in any tournament. The current national stadium, Windsor Park, can currently only accommodate around 20,000 spectators. Despite being the host for the 2021 UEFA Super Cup Final, the possibility of Northern Ireland hosting a match would rely solely on investment.
Whilst it is difficult to predict whether the bid will be successful or not, the prospect of a World Cup Finals returning to British shores is likely to excite the masses. The past year has shown the ability of football to ignite fallen morale. Now, only time will tell whether football will truly be coming home in nine-years’ time.
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