World Cup organisers eye Premier League stadiums
September 26, 2012
Wembley has been reportedly teed up for a World Cup quarter-final © Getty Images
The organisers of the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England are hopeful of securing the Premier League's blessing to use some of the country's leading football stadiums.
England Rugby 2015, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Rugby Football Union, has set themselves a target of selling 2.9m tickets in a bid to generate profit by the only means available to them and are hopeful of using some famous football stadiums alongside traditional rugby strongholds such as Twickenham, the Millennium Stadium and club grounds like Leicester's Welford Road home and Gloucester's Kingsholm base.
The Daily Telegraph reports that ER 2015 have teed up Wembley for a quarter-final match along with two group games with Ross Young, the organisation's chief operating officer, revealing that such stadiums will be used for a minimum of three matches due to infrastructural costs. However, a clash between international football window, which coincides with the fourth week of the pool phase, looms as a potential headache.
While the traditional home of football appears set to feature heavily in the match schedule, the use of the likes of Liverpool FC's Anfield, Arsenal's Emirates Stadium and Manchester United's Old Trafford is not so certain due to a clash between the World Cup and the early stages of the Premier League season.
The newspaper adds that the Premier League is yet to give permission for clubs to stage games, citing complications in the football fixture list which will not be confirmed until June 2015. That date is far too late for World Cup organisers who hope to have their own match schedule in place months before that date but Young is still optimistic that a deal can be reached.
"With the [football] international window in that last weekend of the pool phase, we are talking about a three-week period and if we can't work something out within that three-week period I would be hugely disappointed," Young said. "There is no difference at all to the process that was put in place for France 2007 when the vast majority of venues used were football venues like Lens, Nantes and St Etienne, which are French First Division clubs with very similar commitments and rules and regulations. All those football venues were integrated into a very successful World Cup in 2007."
ER 2015's long list of 20 possible stadia will be whittled down to between 10 and 12 next month at a Rugby World Cup Ltd board meeting before the tournament venues are finally confirmed at the start of next year.
"Once we chose the venues from a long list that includes some contingency, we have five months to work with them [the Premier League] and go through variations of schedules to make sure they and the clubs are comfortable with the schedules to sign up to them," Young added.
Young is also hopeful that all venues will be confirmed in early 2013 and he is adamant that the World Cup will be a nationwide event rather than just focused in the south. He said: "This debate has seen blogs on websites saying 'Why don't we just hold everything at the Olympic Stadium, Wembley and Twickenham?' Between those three venues, we have got plenty of capacity, but it is not the London 2015 World Cup.
"The whole point is that it is a tournament that gives access to rugby fans across England and we get the ability to recreate extra special rugby weekends in the likes of Newcastle and Manchester."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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