Football: Banks banks on England to host 2006 World Cup

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Banks banks on England

to host 2006 World Cup

Sports Minister Tony Banks believes Manchester United's capture of the European Cup in Barcelona may have clinched an even bigger prize for English football - the staging of the World Cup in 2006, writes Alan Hubbard. But Banks, seen hugging Sir Bobby Charlton moments after the last gasp victory over Bayern Munich is less certain about his own future. "Whatever happens, I'm not going to be around in 2006 - certainly not as Sports Minister," he told the Independent on Sunday. There is growing speculation that the controversial Banks wants to run for Mayor of London as Labour's official candidate, but he declines to confirm this. "Let's wait and see," he said. "A lot can happen in a year of so." Meantime Banks reckons that the manner of United's success has won over the sceptics who doubt whether England's pounds 9m World Cup campaign will succeed. "It was the greatest ever advertisement for English football, both on and off the field," he said.

Tony Banks interview, page 16