THERE are hopes that England will stage the 2018 World Cup and - as the beautiful game comes home - the North East could get a slice of the action.
England is set to submit its bid to FIFA later this year, in which it will name the cities where fixtures would be played. Both Newcastle Gateshead and Sunderland are campaigning to be named candidate host cities, which would see four teams from around the globe based in the region.
It is estimated that £25m would be injected into the North East economy if either bid is successful, with tens of thousands of fans jetting in for the festival of football.
Bid leaders have drawn-up detailed documents outlining how each city would accommodate teams and their supporters, including their respective hotel stocks and transport infrastructures.
Now, their attentions have turned to demonstrating there is widespread public support for their efforts ahead of a series of FA and FIFA inspection visits to the North East which are expected over the coming months.
On Tyneside, businesses have been displaying window stickers, urging customers to “Back the Bid,” while others have agreed to all staff wearing football shirts to work for the day.
David Collins, owner of The Telegraph bar in Newcastle city centre is among those pledging his support. He said: “We wholeheartedly support the bid. Bringing the World Cup to the twin cities would be a huge benefit to the licensed trade in the city.”
Another business to support the Newcastle Gateshead bid is marketing and communications firm Robson Brown. Managing director Andrew Marwick said: “Football has played a major part in shaping the heritage and culture of this region so it would be fantastic to see the World Cup come to St James’ Park.
“The area has a fantastic track record in hosting major events so we are very excited at the prospect of once again being the centre of the world’s attention.”
Sunderland’s campaign has won the backing of two of Wearside’s biggest employers. Both Nissan and Caterpillar have supported the bid and launched special signing books for workers to add their names to a petition urging the FA to choose Sunderland.
Phil Handley, managing director at Caterpillar in Peterlee, said: “Caterpillar is thrilled at the prospect of the World Cup coming to the region.
“Not only will our employees be able to enjoy some of the best football in the world right here on their doorstep, there will also be immense benefits to the region’s economy and international profile as well as improvements in infrastructure which is something Caterpillar is firmly engaged in on a global scale. As a key employer in County Durham, it is important for us and other businesses to offer our support to really drive the bid on so we’re only too pleased to welcome the bid team and players to Caterpillar Peterlee.”
Trevor Mann, Nissan’s Nissan’s senior vice president for manufacturing in Europe, said: “Nissan is only too happy to support Sunderland’s bid to be a host city during the World Cup – it’s a real opportunity not to be missed.
“As one of the largest sporting events in the world, the economic benefits it will bring during the competition and in the four years leading up to it will be significant, as well as a boost to the region’s international profile.”
Bid officials from both cities estimate £24.9m will be generated by hosting World Cup football in the region. But the true benefit could be much greater, with those visiting the region travelling further afield than the host city while here.
That could see tourist locations in Northumberland and County Durham also benefitting during the month-long event.
And it is hoped the tournament would also leave a lasting legacy for generations to come. The German city of Gelsenkirchen, which is twinned with Newcastle, was one of the host locations during the last World Cup in 2006.
Mayor Frank Baranowski says the event helped revitalise the city, which suffered from industrial decline in recent years. He said: “There are four main reason why I would say Newcastle Gateshead should go for it. First of all, it is a once-in-a-lifetime and an unforgettable experience.
“Secondly, it gives the area an economic boost. In particular the hotels, restaurants and bars get a whole load of benefits from it during the time of the tournament itself. The third reason is that the city will experience a feeling of community, with organisations working together in ways they have never worked together before.
“Finally, you are placed in the international spotlight. The amount of broadcast coverage you get is something you couldn’t even pay for in advertising terms.”
Officials form both bid teams insist the two cities are not competing against each other saying the whole region will benefit if either is successful.
It is also possible one location could play host to group games, while the other could be awarded a quarter-final tie. Hotels in towns from north Northumberland to Teesside have been included in both campaigns as potential bases for teams, while both cities have had to identify sites for so-called Fan Fests to be set-up.
Page 3: A huge prize on offer
A huge prize on offer
TO be a host, cities must have a stadium that can hold a minimum of 40,000 people, enough hotel accommodation for teams, officials and fans and good travel links, as well as training facilities and potential base camps for national teams.
If the NewcastleGateshead bid is successful, images of Tyneside will be beamed across the world to an estimated worldwide TV audience of 24bn viewers in 240 countries.
The event will generate huge international interest, bringing an estimated £24.9m into the North East economy.
Bid leaders say Newcastle and Gateshead will have a hotel stock of more than 3,000 rooms within 20 minutes walk of St James’s Park and 6,000 within 20 minutes transport by 2018.
It is served by Newcastle International Airport, which has flights going to 250 destinations, along with a ferry terminal and extensive rail network.
The bid points to Tyneside’s experience of hosting major events such as the Great North Run, Aviva Grand Prix Athletics and Euro ‘96.
Page 4: Fun of Fan Fests
Fun of Fan Fests
THE use of so-called Fan Fests during the World Cup in Germany in 2006 has been singled out as arguably the tournament’s biggest success story.
Those behind Newcastle Gateshead’s bid want to replicate the scenes witnessed at towns and cities like Gelsenkirchen in 2006, where locals would mix with supporters of the four teams that would be based here.
Baltic Square is seen as the perfect location to showcase Newcastle and Gateshead’s scenery along the River Tyne. It would play host to media facilities and have a capacity of 3,500, with a further three medium-sized screens set up.
Exhibition Park would be the main site, with a "celebratory 10 minute promenade" stretching from St James’s Park, along Queen Victoria Road and into the fan fest. The site would hold up to 20,000 people, with food, drink and merchandise outlets, as well as giant screens showing games.
Newcastle’s Leazes Park is being earmarked as the sponsors’ village. It is a 20,000sq m area what would be securely segregated to provide VIP amenities immediately next to St James’s Park.
Newcastle Racecourse would be used as the camp site for visiting supporters and would also cater for up to 20,000 people. There would be two 20sq m screens and food and drink facilities. A fans' embassy would be set up there, along with merchandise outlets and a visitor information service.
Gateshead's Saltwell Park has been identified as "a beautiful setting to accommodate the family orientated fan fest" with a 10,000 capacity and two 20sq m screens. The park would be alcohol-free and children’s football games and activities would be staged. Times Square, by the Centre for Life, would be a smaller fan fest, with a 3,000 capacity and smaller, 15sq m screens set up. Food and drink sellers would also be present and alcohol would be permitted to be sold.