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Premier League closes door on financial support for 2018 bid

The Premier League is believed to have closed the door on providing extra financial support for England’s 2018 World Cup bid, according to The Guardian. Last week it pledged “wholehearted support”, promising to use the power of its global appeal to promote the bid in­ter­nati­onal­ly, but it is understood that any appeal for further financial assistance will fall on deaf ears.

Early ill-feeling over the Premier League’s lack of involvement dissipated when the chairman, Sir Dave Richards, was appointed to the bid board and the 2018 chief executive, Andy Anson, sought to build bridges. But there is still a feeling within the Premier League that if substantial funds were to be provided, it needed more control over the composition and strategy of the bid from the beginning.

Because of the Premier League’s bumper TV contracts, which bring in £2.7bn over the current three-year deal and are likely to be exceeded from 2010, some observers feel it should make a larger contribution. But it would argue that as well as promising to support the bid through its international broadcasting network, perimeter advertising hoardings and its good causes projects, clubs are also contributing to the host-cities process.

Club support

Individual clubs could come forward to offer financial support but it is highly unlikely that many, if any, of the 20 will do so. The bid board had hoped to secure £5m in funding from the government towards the overall £15m cost of bidding for the tournament. But in the current financial climate, and mindful of the need to ensure public money was not spent wooing Fifa executive committee members, the government offered only a £2.5m loan.

The bid chairman, Lord Triesman, who has faced some criticism for failing to lead the board effectively, has previously claimed that the government had promised to provide the full amount. But frustrated government sources insisted there was never a firm commitment and argue that Anson originally asked for it as a loan in any case.

Both sides now agree that the £300m in government guarantees that must be provided to Fifa for issues such as security and visas are more important than the missing £2.5m. The bid team will continue to try to secure commercial partners to help fill the gap, but in the current climate that may prove tricky.

A prospective deal with Mars, mooted as part of a wider FA sponsorship signed last month, fell through and there is fierce competition in the sponsorship market.

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