Twickenham potential World Cup venue

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The Independent Online

England's 2018 World Cup bid team have until March next year to decide which grounds make their shortlist - with Twickenham one of those currently under consideration.

Neither the RFU nor, crucially, local residents have been approached about the possibility of putting the 82,000-capacity home of rugby union - which has never staged a major football game - on the list of potential grounds.

It means there are plenty of negotiations ahead for newly-installed bid chief executive Andy Anson.

However, because of its size, Twickenham has been spoken of as one of the grounds that might be used and it is thought the RFU might be willing to embrace the idea.

Fifa's reaction will be crucial. While the world governing body have given the green light to Ellis Park being used to stage matches in South Africa next year, they might argue a country with the infrastructure and history of England should be using solely soccer venues.

However, Anson is in the happy position of knowing there are nearly enough grounds of sufficient standard already to launch a successful bid, with others, including new homes for Liverpool, Everton, Portsmouth and Bristol City, lined up to be built.

The basic criteria are all venues must have a capacity of 40,000, with the stadium being used for the opening game and the final needed to hold 80,000.

"The process to identify host cities and stadia has only just begun and no decisions on venues are required until much later in the process," said a spokesman for the 2018 bid.

"We will obviously be considering all the options available to us so we can present the best possible scenario to Fifa at the appropriate time."

No decision will have to be made until well into the bidding process, which reaches its conclusion in December 2010.

The next stage is a return of the bid registration forms, which are due at Fifa headquarters in Zurich on March 16.

England are one of the early front-runners, although they will face stiff competition from Europe as Spain and Portugal are putting together a combined bid, while Australia are also among the favourites in an 11-strong field.

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