LONDON’S Olympic stadium is set to get a second life in the 2018 football World Cup, if England are awarded the tournament.
The plan had been for the 2012 venue to be downsized following the Games, but organisers of the World Cup bid are now in talks with London Olympics officials to keep the Stratford stadium – and its 80,000 capacity – intact.
Boris Johnson today put his weight behind the idea of basing as much of the World Cup as possible in London.
“London is a football mad city, from the top-flight professional club and international matches attracting fans in their tens of thousands each week to the friendly kick about in local parks and open spaces,” said the London Mayor.
“We would be perfect for watching World Cup matches.”
One possible snag is that FIFA, the world football governing body, have indicated in the past that they prefer World Cup tournaments to be spread around a host country and are believed to have an absolute upper limit of three stadiums to one city.
Wembley would obviously be the main venue and, assuming the Olympic stadium’s capacity gives it the nod, it might be that no club football grounds in the capital get a look in, especially as the surrounding Olympic Park is ideal as a Fans’ Village site.
Even if there were to be three venues in London, Twickenham could slip in ahead off the likes of Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium and Tottenham’s impending new ground.
Both would have a capacity smaller than Twickenham’s 80,000 and the rugby HQ might also pass the spreading-it-around test, being in south-west London while all the rest are north of the river.
The consolation for other London grounds is that they could be used as public training facilities for competing teams. Top sides at previous World Cups have often drawn crowds in the tens of thousands to watch their training routines.
Of course, all that assumes England is awarded the 2018 tournament. England are favourites, but it is no foregone conclusion with the likes of Russia, Spain and the USA also in the running.