Football grounds make 2015 World Cup long list
October 5, 2012
Manchester United's Old Trafford home is reportedly one of the grounds to make the long list of possible Rugby World Cup venues © Getty Images
A host of Premier League football stadiums have reportedly made the long list of potential venues for the 2015 Rugby World Cup despite the continuing uncertainty about the use of such grounds.
A Rugby World Cup Ltd board meeting in Cape Town this week is thought to have ratified a list of 18 possible venues to be used at the tournament in England including Manchester United FC's Old Trafford ground, Sunderland FC's Stadium of Light and Newcastle FC's Sports Direct Arena. In addition, the Olympic Stadium is also thought to be in the running to hosts games despite the lack of clarity regarding its long-term use with official confirmation of the long list expected next week.
The Premier League has yet to grant permission for their clubs to be used citing a possible clash with the early stages of their 2015-16 season and the fact that those fixtures will not be confirmed until June of World Cup year - several months after England Rugby 2015, the organisers of the tournament, hope to have confirmed their fixtures and begun ticket sales.
The Times reports that a meeting between ER 2015 and the Premier League last week was "positive and constructive", according to sources on both sides of the discussions. However, the newspaper reports that issues remain including the Premier League's commitments to Sky and BT Vision, who paid about £6.5 million to broadcast each match.
ER 2015, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Rugby Football Union, paid £80m to host the tournament and ticketing revenue is their only way of recouping that outlay and generating a profit. A bold target of 2.9m ticket sales has been set that organisers must sell an average 60,000 seats for every game in the 48-match schedule.
This has increased the pressure to secure the use of the largest stadiums in the country with the biggest - Twickenham and Wembley - set to play host to several games. Only two traditional club rugby grounds - Leicester's Welford Road and Gloucester's Kingsholm - are thought to be in the selection mix.
The Premier League claims it only offered letters of intent to World Cup organisers as part of their bid for the tournament but former RFU chief executive Francis Baron insisted this week that the football grounds were "legally obligated" to provide their stadiums subject to resolving the actual dates.
The list of 18 stadiums, that includes contingency venues should an agreement not be reached with the Premier League, will be whittled down to 10-12 venues early next year following the pool draw on December 3.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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