Sam Wallace: Fifa's pipe and slippers brigade show football is old man's game, no matter how good English bid

Talking Football: For all our attempts to drop the 'football's coming home' schtick, we have made inadequate efforts to establish a major voice among Fifa and Uefa
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The average age of the 22 men on the Fifa executive committee (ExCo) is 64 and, as you will see when they shuffle centre stage in Zurich on Thursday to decide the fate of England's 2018 World Cup bid, they are not an especially dynamic bunch.

Nicolas Leoz, from Paraguay, is the oldest of the lot at 82 and Vitaly Mutko of Russia the spring chicken at 51. At 55, Michel Platini is another one of the youngsters, but then, he was carried out of a Johannesburg restaurant on a stretcher during the World Cup having fainted over dessert, so it would be fair to say that he too is experiencing the disadvantages of advancing years.

It is often overlooked that winning the right to host the World Cup finals is not about the best stadiums, the most comprehensive infrastructure or the foremost football culture – although all that helps – it is about convincing 13 of 24 ExCo members (currently reduced to 22) to vote for you.

That is a different proposition altogether. The problem is this is a group of old men who have lived so long in the febrile political atmosphere of international football, who have so many complex and ever-shifting alliances, that persuading them to vote for your bid above all others is fiendishly difficult.

Why did they decide to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in one go? Because many of the ExCo cannot be sure that they will still be around in 2014 when, ordinarily, Fifa would have voted for the 2022 hosts.

For what will be the last time for so many of the old men who have run football for years, Thursday's opulent Fifa gala – with Vladimir Putin, Bill Clinton, David Cameron and Prince William in attendance – will make that lifetime of committee room power-brokering worth it.

For a few days, at least, the ExCo men from Guatemala and from Cyprus, from Belgium, Japan and Thailand will feel like the prettiest girls at the party as heads of state and famous ex-footballers are delivered into their presence to beg endorsement for their nations.

What actually influences their views – whether it is the rebuilding of Plymouth Argyle's Home Park, the proposed rejuvenation of the hospitality infrastructure in Nizhny Novgorod or perhaps rewards of a more specific nature – we can only guess.

It might fairly be said that concepts such as "legacy programmes" and "dynamic global media hubs", which featured prominently in the England 2018 1,752-page bid book, might be of secondary importance to certain ExCo members to questions such as "where are my slippers?" and "will we be home in time for Antiques Roadshow?" (or its Paraguayan equivalent).

Which is another way of saying that if, on Thursday, the name that comes out of the envelope to host the 2018 World Cup finals is not England, there is no point being surprised or too disappointed. The race was well run, the English bid gave it their best shot and, unlike the 2006 bid, we did not expect to woo the decision-makers with a barbecue and the chance of a photograph with Bobby Charlton.

Yes, there were some cock-ups along the way but nothing that should have undermined such a solid offering to Fifa. There was also the nuisance of England having a free, robust press, which – including tonight's BBC Panorama show – is such a pain when you are trying to impress men who come from countries with nothing of the sort.

Inevitably, should England lose, certain ExCo members – and I think we can guess who – will be only too quick to tell us of the grave errors made by the English 2018 bid. The silver lining will be that, because the English have lost, the 2018 bid team no longer have to pretend that they are remotely interested.

Should the hosts turn out to be Spain-Portugal or Russia then there is no point beginning the blame game. Perhaps a more realistic attitude would be that the English are no better equipped for the business of winning the right to host World Cups than the national team is equipped to win them.

Of the 17 stadiums in England's bid book 13 are already built, in comparison with the nine which are yet to be built by the Russians. England has the most popular top division in the world – if television rights sales are the barometer – and the highest aggregate attendances for its professional leagues in Europe. Unlike the Spanish, England has not hosted a World Cup within the past three decades.

But perhaps we also have to accept that we are not well liked. That, for all our attempts to drop the embarrassing "football's coming home" schtick, we have made inadequate efforts to establish a major voice among Fifa and Uefa unless you count the inaudible Geoff Thompson, our one underwhelming representative on the ExCo.

We are not very good at the deal-making such as the alleged collusion of Spain and Qatar. We do not have the deep pockets of Russia and Qatar. We have on our side David Beckham and one jolly royal but we do not have the benefit, Thompson aside, of a veteran of the politicking that is crucial to the lifeblood of Fifa and the ExCo.

So we lose. Twenty-two old boys tot up their grudges and their allegiances and take their favour elsewhere. At least the grovelling can stop, until at least the bidding for World Cup 2030, by which time we must hope that Fifa has a different bidding process from the one in which we attempt to read the minds of 24 unpredictable men.

Arnesen leaves a vacuum that may not need filling

So, farewell then Frank Arnesen, the Chelsea sporting director or, as everyone else knew you: the man who spent more money on unknown teenage footballers than anyone in the history of English football.

The news that Arnesen is leaving Chelsea at the end of the season begs the intriguing question of whether the club will replace him. When Damien Comolli left Tottenham two years ago they abolished the technical director's role. As legacies goes, that takes some beating.

Arnesen is thought to have ambitions to be the Denmark manager, a job which will bring with it rather more public accountability than his role at Chelsea ever earned him.

Moyes safe but is definitely back in a 'dodgy spell'

In October, after Everton beat Liverpool and the position of Roy Hodgson was debated, David Moyes was moved to point out that his own record at Everton warranted him protection from what he described as a "couple of dodgy spells".

There is no doubt he is in one such spell now and, after the 4-1 home defeat to West Bromwich Albion and with Everton in 16th position, the phone-in brigade seem to have the knives out for him. Moyes will come through this – he is too good a manager not to – but the crucial thing for him is that he is well-positioned in the event of the jobs at Chelsea, or even Manchester United, coming up soon.

If he has taken Everton as far as they are likely to go under the current regime, there is still much more he can achieve in his own career.

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