Murrayfield among venue contenders for UK World Cup 2030 bid

Murrayfield could host a World Cup finals match
Murrayfield could host a World Cup finals match
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Home of Scottish rugby Murrayfield is in line to host a football World Cup finals match as part of a UK 2030 bid, organisers have signalled.

An upgraded Murrayfield could feature alongside a revamped Hampden in any bid for the 2030 Fifa World Cup, UK Sport chiefs have said.

The drafting of a feasibility study to determine whether the showpiece might be co-hosted by the British home nations and Ireland has already commenced.

UK Sport’s head of major events Esther Britten said: “The stadium criteria will be very high and we’d have to look at having enough stadia.

“There would be options to make Murrayfield and Hampden upgraded at that time.”

UK Sport is expected to announce its aims today to host the 2030 World Cup in UK and Ireland.

The plan has UK government backing, with Prime Minister Theresa May saying on Friday the government would support any bid.

“The decision on whether to bid is for the football associations to make,” said Mrs May.

“If they decide to go forward, they can count on this government’s full support.”

Murrayfield has hosted domestic and European football in the past and was a temporary home for Hearts while Tynecastle was redeveloped.

The English Football Association is taking the lead in crunching the numbers in conjunction with planners at the UK government’s sporting agency.

Not only would a pitch for the event require hefty financial backing from the Treasury but it would also need to demonstrate the top-class infrastructure befitting one of the crown jewels of global sport.

That the home of Scottish rugby should be earmarked as a venue makes sense with its large capacity and proven record of coping with varied major events.

And while the Scottish FA have openly trumpeted the idea of a World Cup as a catalyst for modernising Hampden following their recent agreement to purchase the ground from Queen’s Park, UK Sport chair Katherine Grainger believes a bid might offer an ideal chance to refit Murrayfield, which lacks many of the customer-focused amenities expected from modern stadia.

“Scotland has got some great venues with amazing history and tradition and some iconic stadia but like all of us, they get a bit older and need some upgrading and attention at times,” the Scottish rowing legend said.

“The good thing is that hosting events is very competitive as an industry and not only do you need to show the calibre of event you can organise but the venue is very important.

“If there are venues that could do with a bit of upgrading, it can be a win-win all round.”

Hampden has already been granted fixtures in the early stages of the 2020 European football championship, which will have its final at Wembley in London.

andy.shipley@jpress.co.uk