The grandees of England's World Cup 2018 bid were forced into a hurried defence of their campaign yesterday after coming under attack from two influential figures.
Lord Triesman, the FA chairman, and Andy Anson, the bid's chief executive, were both due to deliver speeches this morning at the Leaders in Football Conference at Stamford Bridge. However, the pair had to make an impromptu appearance yesterday to stress the bid was on track.
Jack Warner, the president of Concacaf, may be a somewhat discredited figure having been embroiled in a ticket-selling scandal before the 2006 World Cup finals, but he is influential in football being a Fifa vice-president and one of the 24 men who will vote next December on the World Cup's location.
Warner said the FA's bid was "lightweight" and lacked prominence. "England has the best infrastructure, the best league, the best history in the world and when I see all these things I ask why they are not doing better," he said. The Trinidadian added: "They don't have a divine right to hold it, but I feel they don't exploit their attributes. My colleagues are saying the people coming to them are lightweight. They need to be creative and innovative. I would take David Beckham for example and make him my ambassador. He has that stardust."
He added: "They need to get moving. I was in Rio de Janeiro last week and the name on people's lips for 2018 was Spain and then Russia. I'm not even sure what those countries are doing but I do know what England are not doing. If they don't get their act together they will lose."
Warner's criticism was echoed by Danny Jordaan, who masterminded South Africa's successful 2010 bid. Jordaan said: "There is a large global awareness of the English Premier League but that connection between a domestic product and a world event must be made."
Triesman responded that the bid was merely following Warner's previous advice not to repeat the errors of the failed 2006 bid and "be in people's faces" but to get to know them first. He added that the intention was always to step up the campaigning around now.
Anson was more acerbic. He said the FA "would not be rushed by outside influences". And in reference to Warner's surprise at Australia and Qatar, bid rivals, being allowed to hand out bags at the entrance to the conference, he said dismissively: "If we thought there was mileage in giving out carrier bags we'd do it, but we think there is more mileage in outlining our vision for football."
Warner was last night entertained to dinner by Triesman and Anson. The latter said, "We'll have a good debate with him in private." It must have been an interesting meal.
Mawhinney warns of impending wage crisis
Lord Mawhinney, the chairman of the Football League, yesterday admitted football's business model was unsustainable at all levels. "Wages simply follow television income," he said. "As wages increase, club debt increases. No one, except players and agents, makes money. In the Championship, in 2007-08, clubs spent an average of 87 per cent of revenue on wages. Is there any business in the world where such a percentage would be sustainable? Wage controls are not going to happen this week, but the debate is not finished because the problem is getting worse."Reuse content