England's World Cup 2018 bid: The venues
Here at Pocket-lint, we love a bit of footie which is why we're firmly backing England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup. Russia is also in the running, along with joint bids from Holland and Belgium, and a rather more convincing one from Spain and Portugal. England is hoping to host the football tournament for the first time in 52 years, since its famous trophy-winning stint as host in 1966.
Today, a crack team comprising prime minister David Cameron, newly engaged Prince William and football superstar David Beckham, descended on FIFA HQ in Switzerland to put forward our final arguments.
So, are England's hallowed football grounds up to the job of a World Cup? And will the Vuvuzela ban imposed by most England clubs for the domestic season stand during a future World Cup? We flipping hope so, on both counts.
We've trawled Google Earth to bring you the lowdown on all the stadia in England that could potentially play host to the 2018 World Cup, along with their possible capacities, so that you can judge the state of the bid for yourself. The 2018 World Cup result will be announced at 3pm on 2 December 2010. Stay tuned.
Wembley (capacity: 90,000)
Wembley, or Wem-ber-lee for the purpose of English football chants, is the country's national stadium and was opened in 2007, replacing the previous Wembley stadium that was on the same site. The 90,000 capacity makes it Europe's second largest stadium, behind Barcelona's Camp Nou and it's also a major venue for music and comedy shows. Transport links are pretty good, but we're hoping that the powers that be might do something about the dismal lack of nearby places to eat.
Olympic Stadium (capacity: 80,000)
It's not finished just yet, although hopefully it will all be done in time for London's 2012 Olympics. Located in Stratford, East London, this is Britain's third largest stadium behind Wembley and rugby's Twickenham ground. Both Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham have put in bids to have this as their home ground following the 2012 Olympics, although it's a fair distance away from both teams' current grounds.
Old Trafford (capacity: 75,957)
Well known as Manchester United's home ground, Old Trafford is perhaps the most internationally recognised club ground in England thanks to the success of the team and the stratospheric fame of a certain Mr Beckham. It's also the second biggest footballing venue in the country behind Wembley. Whimsically referred to as the Theatre of Dreams by Bobby Charlton, the ground has already been confirmed as one of the sites for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Emirates Stadium (capacity: 60,355)
Arsenal's Holloway-based home ground was opened in 2006 to replace its old Highbury Stadium. The excruciatingly corporate-sounding Emirates Stadium, named as a result of a deal with the famous airline, also operates as a conference centre and music venue and boasts a nearby tube station with a handy metal cage running down one of the corridors in order to contain the fans. Lovely stuff.
Anfield (capacity: 51,000)
Currently boasting a capacity of 45,362, the seating numbers at Liverpool's home ground are set to rise to 51,000 if it is picked as a World Cup venue. However, there are plans to replace Anfield with a 60,000-seater stadium at Stanley Park, with capacity expandable up to 72,000. Construction of the new ground was due to start several years ago, but the plans were put on hold thanks to tough economic times.
St James' Park (capacity: 60,000)
Newcastle United's ground currently has a capacity of 52,387, which would be expanded to 60,000 should England win its World Cup bid. Home to the Magpies since 1892, St James' Park has the largest cantilever roof in Europe and the home of Geordie football was also used for the filming of footie film Goal!.
Stadium of Light (capacity: 64,000)
Home to Newcastle's arch rivals Sunderland, the Stadium of Light not only boasts one of the most preposterous stadium names in the English Premier League, but it also has a capacity of 49,000 that can be expanded to to 60,000 if need be. The ground has previous when it comes to international football, having played host to a Euro 2004 qualifier and a friendly against Belgium in 1999. It's also a popular music venue, with both Take That and Kings of Leon booked in to the perform there in 2011.
City of Manchester Stadium (capacity: 70,000)
We've already covered Man Utd and Old Trafford, but what about their Mancunian rivals? Manchester City's home ground was originally planned as part of the city's failed bid for the 2000 Olympics and was eventually built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games. It can currently cater for 47,726 footie fans, but there is talk of upping the seat count to some where around 60-70,000, which would make this a very credible venue indeed.
New Nottingham Forest Stadium (capacity: 41,000)
This one doesn't actually exist yet, hence the lack of a picture. Reliant on a successful 2018 bid, the new stadium would act as a replacement to Forest's City Ground, which has been deemed unsuitable due to the lack of parking. Name suggestions for the new ground include the rather unimaginative New City Ground, the slightly silly Robin Hood Arena and the Brian Clough Arena (our personal favourite).
Villa Park (capacity: 50,000)
Currently capable of holding 42,788 fans, Villa Park has been home to Aston Villa since 1897 when the club moved into a sports ground in a Victorian amusement park which was situated in the former grounds of stately home. Unsurprisingly the ground has gone through plenty of development since Victorian times. In the 1920s, one of the stands was even opened by the Duke of York, who would then go on to become King George VI. The future monarch described it as "a ground so finely equipped in every way". If only he could have seen the excellent bar and toilet facilities at the new Wembley.
New Bristol City Stadium (capacity: 40,000)
The third that has yet to be built, this one would replace Ashton Gate Stadium as the home of Bristol City F.C. Set to hold 30,000 football followers, the stadium could be expanded to house 40,000 should the World Cup bid go as planned. Whatever happens, it's scheduled to open in 2012 and will be designed by those responsible for Wembley, Cardiff's Millennium Stadium and the Emirates.
Hillsborough (capacity: 44,825)
Despite never quite being able to shake off the bad memories of the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy in which 96 football fans lost their lives, Sheffield Wednesday's home ground is certainly a credible candidate for an international competition. The disaster prompted a wide-ranging series of upgrades to improve safety at the stadium, as well as at other stadia throughout the country, with the standardisation of all-seated stadia being one of the legacies of the disaster. Current capacity is 39,812.
Elland Road (capacity: 51,240)
The home of Leeds United may not be described as top-tier by some, but it does hold the honour of being the second largest football ground outside the premier league, with a current capacity of 39,460 that has the potential to be increased to 51,240. It was used as a venue during Euro 96 and has also been listed as one of the venues for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The older sections of the stadium were used for filming in the movie The Damned United which chronicles Brian Clough's brief stint as Leeds manager.
Stadium:mk (capacity: 55,000)
Opened in 2007 by the Queen, this Milton Keynes-based ground has one of the most annoyingly modern stadium names around, that sports its own semi-colon and lower case initials. Home to the Milton Keynes Dons F.C, who were born from the ashes of Wimbledon F.C in 2004, the stadium has the ability to expand to a 55,000 seater should we win the bid, and can seat up to 32,000 if its upper tier is used. Currently only the 22,000-seater lower tier is used, and even that sounds a bit optimistic to us - have you ever met an MK Dons fan? No, us neither.
Home Park (capacity: 46,000)
The smallest of all the proposed stadia, Home Park can currently only cater for 19,500 fans, but that's set to rise to 46,000 if we get the go-ahead for the World Cup. Home to League One club Plymouth Argyle since 1901, the relatively diminutive venue has seen plenty of England team action in the past (although not for some time) and is also used as a music venue. The ground's Grandstand was destroyed by the Luftwaffe in a bombing raid during the Second World War, and wasn't re-built until 1952.