Call for Sheffield to host games if England World Cup 2030 bid succeeds
Sheffield should be chosen as a host city if a bid for England to stage the 2030 World Cup is successful.
That is the view of former sports minister and Sheffield MP Richard Caborn after the FA revealed it is considering putting together a bid for the country to stage the tournament in 12 years' time.
In an exclusive interview with the Sheffield Star, Mr Caborn expressed his belief that if football is coming home then Sheffield must play a key role because:-
*The city is the 'birthplace of the game' being home to Sheffield FC the world's oldest football club
*Six South Yorkshire and north Derbyshire players were key to the Three Lions' success in reaching the semi-finals in Russia
*Sheffield has proven pedigree having hosted matches at both the 1966 World Cup and Euro 96
*We have some of the best sports facilities on the planet.
Mr Caborn said: "We have the footballing heritage and the credentials to be a host city. It would be fantastic for Sheffield, and for the country. I fully support the bid.
"Sheffield was a host city at the last World Cup we hosted in 1966, we have the world's oldest club and more recently 25 per cent of the England squad in Russia was from this area - so why not?"
In 1966, the last time England hosted the World Cup, four matches were played at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough Stadium, including a quarter final between West Germany and Uruguay.
The ground was used again for Euro 96 matches and fans were treated to a sublime goal by Croatia's Davor Suker in a 3-0 win against Denmark.
When asked if Hillsborough and Sheffield United's Bramall Lane stadiums would need to be upgraded to compete with other huge stadiums across the country, he accepted that they would have to be able to meet the demands of hosting a World Cup.
He highlighted Sheffield FC, the world's oldest football club, which is planning to build a new ground and museum of football at Olive Grove in Heeley where it all began in 1857, as another reason why Sheffield should bid.
Mr Caborn believes the performances of South Yorkshire and north Derbyshire's 'super six' of Jamie Vardy, Danny Rose, Gary Cahill, John Stones, Harry Maguire and Kyle Walker would also further the city's cause.
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He added that even if Sheffield is unsuccessful in hosting matches, the city could provide a training base at least for some of the world's top teams.
The Olympic Legacy Park in Attercliffe - a huge sports complex built on the site of the old Don Valley Stadium - could be an ideal location, especially if new plans for a Â£5 million 3, 900 capacity stadium come to fruition.
Mr Caborn, project leader for the park, said: "You look at the facilities we have in the city, such as the Olympic Legacy Park, and when you take a look at it in the round our sports science, venues and sports psychology are second to none.
"Also 25 per cent of England's squad were from this area and they benefited from top coaching when they were coming through. So why wouldn't a top team want to be based here?"
The former Labour cabinet minister knows a thing or two about World Cup bids having been appointed by then Prime Minister Gordon Brown as ambassador for England's failed campaign to host the 2018 tournament.
He said there are many lessons that must be learned from that failure if England is to be successful next time around.
Said Mr Caborn: "The FA needs to get past their arrogance and ego and get a professional team in to lead the bid, much like the successful London Olympics 2012 team did.
"There was a report produced on the successful Olympics bid which effectively showed you how it should be done. I would urge the FA to dust that down and read it."
Despite his criticism of the footballing governing body, he added he was ready to step in and help with a bid at "local or national level."
FA chairman Greg Clarke said earlier this week: "Last month the English FA board agreed to conduct feasibility work into the possibility of putting itself forward to be UEFA's potential candidate to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup.
"This work will take place during the new season and no decision will be made until 2019."
It is understood the FA is also considering a joint home nations bid along with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay will be bidding jointly for the tournament and Morocco have also said they will bid, while a joint proposal by Tunisia and Algeria is also a possibility.
A Sheffield Council spokesperson said: "The council will wait until the FA seek discussions on their proposed bid. At that stage, the city will consider its position."
A Sheffield Wednesday spokesperson said it was only "very early stages" and added the club will monitor the situation with a "watching brief."
Sheffield United was working on a response at the time of publication.