The wait is almost over for the towns and cities throughout England hoping to host matches in the 2021 World Cup.
A total of 40 applicants met last July’s deadline to submit bids and the winners will be announced in Manchester from 9am on Tuesday.
Organisers will unveil up to 14 venues for the 31 matches in the men’s tournament and other venues for the women’s and wheelchair events which will be run alongside for the first time, resulting in a total of 32 teams competing across 64 games in two months from October 27, 2021.
Officials will also reveal which of the 40 other applications to provide training camps for the 16 teams have been successful.
It is already known that 80 per cent of the men’s fixtures will be played in the northern powerhouse as a result of Government backing worth £25m, including a £10m legacy pledge.
So approximately 24 of the 31 games will be staged in the game’s traditional heartland and, to reach their ambitious targets, organisers will opt for cities rather than towns and for stadia with at least 12,000 capacities.
Games will take place exclusively in England after organisers ruled out taking fixtures to France, Ireland, Scotland and Wales as they have in the past when the Rugby Football League has acted as hosts.
So St James’ Park, Elland Road, Anfield and the Etihad are all in the running to host the opening ceremony and the first game which will feature England, while the final looks likely to be held once more at either Wembley or Old Trafford.
Interest, not surprisingly, has been huge. Statistics from the 2013 World Cup staged in England and Wales reveal that London and Cardiff benefited economically to the tune of £12.3m and £8.5m respectively and organisers claim the next one will be worth £74.6m nationally, despite estimated costs of around £42m.
The 2013 tournament generated a profit of £3.7m but organisers say the 16th World Cup will be the most attended and viewed tournament ever, with all 65 matches to be shown live to an anticipated audience of 150 million in 115 territories worldwide, and – unlike its predecessors – will leave a long-lasting legacy.
Unlike the 2017 tournament held in Australia, there will be midweek matches to maintain interest throughout the event and officials plan to recruit 1,500 volunteers to staff games.
Three countries – France, Wales and Jamaica – have qualified so far to join the eight seeds from the 2017 World Cup and the five remaining spots will be filled by the end of 2019.
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