Forget London, imagine a World Cup in Plymouth

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The Independent Football

Ahead of today's vote, anticipation was building in the cities selected as the host destinations for England's bid.

Included among the 12 cities are some that don't normally play host to world football's biggest stars. Plymouth is home to Plymouth Argyle, who play in League One of the Football League. If England's bid is successful today, the club's ground Home Park will earn a massive refurbishment, growing from 19,500 seats to 45,000.

Douglas Fletcher, chairman of the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: "It would leave a legacy of a major world-class stadium as well as a major entertainment arena for the South-west." Vivien Pengelly, Plymouth City Council leader, added: "Bringing the tournament to Plymouth would create around 3,700 jobs in the city and generate a spend of almost £400m across Devon and Cornwall. Bringing international football to the city would benefit the local tourism industry for years to come."

Although fellow bid city Birmingham is already home to two Premier League clubs – Aston Villa and Birmingham City – excitement about the World Cup was echoed there.

Mike Whitby, leader of Birmingham City Council, said: "Staging World Cup matches will provide the perfect opportunity to showcase Birmingham to the world. The economic impact would be formidable and such a high- profile event can only inspire young people from across the city, leaving a lasting legacy."

The North-east has long been celebrated for its fanatical support of football, something which was rewarded when both Sunderland and Newcastle/Gateshead were named as host cities.

Paul Robertson, editor of the Newcastle Evening Chronicle, said: "We have wonderful coastline and countryside, a vibrant city which is both modern and steeped in history, great shops, transport network and of course we are known for our friendliness. Whichever nations are based here can be assured of a warm welcome."