Football: England 2006 bid boasts cheap tickets

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The Independent Online
A FAMILY of four will be able to watch a 2006 World Cup match for a total of pounds 48 if England's bid to stage the tournament is successful.

The inflation-defying pricing policy, intended to demonstrate that young people and families will be at the heart of the English bid, was announced yesterday as the 2006 campaign team flew to Zurich, the headquarters of Fifa, the world game's governing body, to formally submit its bid document.

"The principle behind the bid is to sell as many tickets as we can at those [low] prices," Alec McGivan, England's campaign director, said. "Our bid is not just an English bid or a European bid but a bid that will mean something to every country in the world that plays football."

It is understood that if England's bid is successful, family enclosures at the 2006 World Cup will be substantially enlarged. Tickets within these would sell for pounds 9 per child and pounds 15 per adult and there would also be an unspecified number of cheaper tickets, starting at pounds 15, in other parts of the grounds. These prices would apply in at least the first round.

Fifa would have to approve the pricing policy before it became official, but it is understood that the world governing body has reacted favourably to the idea. Because Fifa keeps television and sponsorship money - but not ticket receipts - from World Cup finals, it is thought that it will allow the English organisers, if successful, to sell a tranche of tickets cheaply while charging much higher (and as yet unspecified) amounts to corporate buyers. The English bid does not yet have a mascot, but if successful, it could so worse that consider adopting Robin Hood.

McGivan was backed up yesterday by a heavyweight bid team who included two knights from the successful 1966 final, Bobby Charlton and Geoff Hurst, a potential star of future world cups, Michael Owen, and Tony Banks. The former sports minister turned special envoy will represent the Prime Minister on the bid team and was more in demand yesterday by young autograph hunters - primarily 19 Blue Peter competition winners - than Hurst. "This man is the only person who has scored a hat-trick in a World Cup final," Banks told the children, who continued to scrabble for his signature. Perhaps they thought his name was Gordon.

Having flown to Switzerland in a new Boeing 777, emblazoned with the logo "Bringing Football Home", the 2006 team spent 30 minutes making their presentation to Sepp Blatter, Fifa's president.

"I was lucky to watch Euro 96 from the stands as a fan," Owen said. "And I played in a World Cup in France and it was the most memorable occasion in my life." He added, as did Sir Bobby, McGivan and Banks, that he was sure that England were capable of staging the best World Cup the world had ever seen.

The English bid document does much to highlight the country's existing stadia as some of the best in the world. The renovated Wembley, due to be completed by 2003 at a cost of pounds 475m, is also a selling point, as is a successful track record in hosting Euro 96. Security, telecommunications, transport and facilities for handling large numbers of people are also in place.

Before the England submission, Blatter had received the official bid documents of South Africa and Morocco, while Brazil and Germany make their presentations today. The final decision will be made by Fifa's 24-member executive committee next June.

England must win political battle, page 20,

Leading article,

Review page 3

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