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'Greatest Sporting Decade'

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Sheffield History

'Greatest Sporting Decade'

If the Football Association is successful in a possible bid to host the World Cup in 2018, it could mark the "greatest decade in Britain's sporting history".

Gordon Brown is to publish a Treasury study which names England as the "pre-eminent European candidate" to host the world's biggest sporting event in 11 years' time.

And he will say that - with the 2012 Olympics already scheduled to take place in London - the opportunity is there to make "sporting history".

The 50-page feasibility study, drawn up over the past year, states that England is already well-placed to host the tournament in terms of stadium infrastructure - compared with Germany which had to build three new stadiums in advance of the 2006 cup.

Any FA bid for the 2018 tournament does not have to be submitted until 2010, with the decision on the host to be taken by Fifa in autumn 2011.

But England's experience of an unsuccessful bid for the 2006 Cup has prompted the decision to start planning early.

In a survey of 2,000 people conducted for the study, 90% were in favour of England hosting the tournament, with only 10% against.

Mr Brown said: "By 2018, it will be more than 50 years since England first hosted the World Cup, and I believe it is time the tournament returned to the nation which gave football to the world.

"I want every region of the country to share in the benefits of these sporting events, I want every young person to be inspired by them to increase their own participation in sport.

And - if The FA decide to launch a bid - I will make it my personal mission over the next few years to persuade countries around the world to support that bid."

With the World Cup taking place in South Africa in 2010 and expected to return to South America in 2014, the earliest it can come back to Europe is 2018.

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