Plymouth and Co make final pitch to survive World cull

Powers-that-be will cut applicants to 12...then all England must do is win 2018 bid.

World Cup games at Home Park, Plymouth? In Milton Keynes? Or at a spanking new stadium in Bristol, where top-class football has not been seen since 1980? Such things will remain possible if the respective venues survive the culling process on Wednesday, when 15 applicants are cut to a maximum of 12. Then all that will remain is for England to win the right to stage the 2018 tournament.

The more obvious cities such as London, Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester are all in the hunt, though of those only the latter pair know exactly which grounds would be used. Liverpool has little idea which stadiums will even exist in nine years' time, following the rejection of plans for Everton's proposed new one. As well as Wembley, Arsenal and Tottenham, London is proposing the 2012 Olympic stadium, but it may yet be scaled down to 25,000; World Cup venues must have a minimum capacity of 40,000.

A committee comprising Lord Mawhinney, Simon Johnson and Andy Anson must decide whether to stick with established football venues or go for a wider regional spread by including the West Country, which was ignored when England staged tournaments in 1966 and 1996. Cities used for Euro '96 were London, Birmingham, Nottingham, Sheffield, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle.

THE FAVOURITES

BIRMINGHAM

Stadium: Villa Park

Celebrity backers: Jasper Carrott, Graham Taylor

DERBY

Stadium: Pride Park

Celebrity backers: Archie Gemmill, RoyMcFarland

LEEDS

Stadium: Elland Road

Celebrity backers: Jack Charlton, Chris Moyles

LEICESTER

Stadium: Walkers Stadium

Celebrity backers: Gary Lineker, Sir Steve Redgrave

LIVERPOOL

Stadiums: Anfield (old or new)

Celebrity backers: Kenny Dalglish, Gerry Marsden

LONDON

Stadiums: Wembley, Emirates, new White Hart Lane, Olympic Stadium

Celebrity backers: Boris Johnson, John Terry

MANCHESTER

Stadiums: Eastlands, Old Trafford

Celebrity backers: Andrew Flintoff, Bryan Robson

NEWCASTLE-GATESHEAD

Stadium: St James’ Park

Celebrity backers: Alan Shearer, Sting

NOTTINGHAM

Stadium: New City Ground

Celebrity backers: Rebecca Adlington, Carl Froch

SHEFFIELD

Stadiums: Hillsborough, Bramall Lane

Celebrity backers: Michael Vaughan, Howard Wilkinson

SUNDERLAND

Stadium: Stadium of Light

Celebrity backers: Paul Collingwood, Eddie Izzard

THE OUTSIDERS

BRISTOL

What they say: “We are a region immersed in sport at every level... an enthralling, international destination”

Stadium: New ground in the south of city.

Selling point: Large regional centre denied Premier League football

Unlikely selling point: “More people cycle in Bristol than in any other UK city”

Celebrity backers: GaryMabbutt, Wallace & Gromit

HULL

What they say: “A region in love with sport. The city is undergoing a dramatic renaissance”

Stadium: Redeveloped KC to hold 46,000

Selling point: Community spirit; sympathy for the underdog.

Unlikely selling point: Rugby league

Celebrity backers: Alan Johnson, Phil Brown

MILTON KEYNES

What they say: “It’s our vision and willingness to think differently that in 2004 saw Milton Keynes become England’s newest football city”

Stadium: stadium: mk to be extended.

Selling point: Freshness of 43-year-old town

Unlikely selling point: “Our unique road grid system”

Celebrity backers: Eddie Izzard, Lord David Puttnam, Lord Neil Kinnock

PLYMOUTH

What they say: “This is a Plymouth, Devon and Cornwall bid. A beautiful setting for the beautiful game.”

Stadium: Home Park. “We will build the Wembley of the South-west”

Selling point: Location, location, location

Unlikely selling point: “A surf-themed FanFest site in Newquay”

Celebrity backers: Tom Daley, Helen Chamberlain

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