Plymouth For 2030 World Cup?
Could Plymouth become a World Cup host city again?
Hopes are high that the 2030 World Cup will be hosted in Great Britain following recent comments from UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin who said: 'But you know everything about English or British football, so they deserve to have a World Cup in the near future.'
The rotational policy of hosting the World Cup means that the 2030 tournament will take place in Europe and many commentators believe that Great Britain will be chosen.
Plymouth and the Home Park stadium was selected as a host venue for the 2018 World Cup before the event was controversially awarded to Russia instead of England, so will Home Park be selected again to host World Cup games if the tournament comes to Great Britain in 2030?
Back in 2009 Plymouth beat cities such as Hull, Leicester and Portsmouth to be named as one of the 12 select venues to host World Cup games in 2018, the others were London ( three venues), Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sunderland, Birmingham and Sheffield.
There were plans for a new 43,000 stadium at Home Park plus new associated facilities in the surrounding areas, new director Keith Todd was at the forefront of these new plans, although long-term director Paul Stapleton led the newly-formed Plymouth World Cup Limited company.
Who remembers 'back the bid' campaign?
The bid to bring the World Cup to Plymouth saw the local council, Devon County Council, Cornwall County Council and Plymouth University join forces with the football club and they secured a successful bid.
However, once England lost the bid and the World Cup went to Russia Plymouth Argyle Football Club fell into financial ruin.
It seemed new directors such as Sir Roy Gardner and Yasuaki Kagami were only interested in the World Cup bid and not Argyle as a football club and coupled with high unaffordable wages paid to players the club went into administration less than 18 months after winning the bid to host the World Cup.
Could Argyle and Home Park be chosen again as a World Cup venue?
It's possible but several huge factors would need to be achieved.
The rules for hosting World Cup games is that a stadium has to have a capacity of between 30,000 and 40,000, more likely governing body FIFA would favour stadiums that are able to hold close to 40,000 spectators.
Facilities around Home Park would also need to be upgraded, especially car parking and media outlets.
In 2009, during the bid for the World Cup, Plymouth had an airport, now it doesn't have one, although Exeter airport is just 45 minutes away, would FIFA view this as an obstacle?
The Home Park grandstand is about to be refurbished over two stages which will take the capacity of the stadium to just about 20,000, still far short of the criteria to host World Cup games.
In Argyle's favour, should Great Britain secure the 2030 bid, is that host venues are named eight years before the competition starts, so if Plymouth is selected there is plenty of time to find the funding and increase the capacity at Home Park, although having financially suffered once relating to a World Cup do we want to go down that road again?
Also in Argyle's favour is that from 2026 the tournament will be expanded to include 48 countries instead of the traditional 32, this means an extra 16 games to find venues for.
It's possible that stadiums with smaller capacities or without a large metropolitan area will be chosen to host group games - Caymen Islands - Honduras anyone?
There are a lot of 'ifs' and 'buts', can we do it again?