Ferguson backing the bid

The Scot will join Sir Bobby Charlton in guiding the six-man FIFA

team around Old Trafford, one of the main venues for England’s bid,

when they visit Manchester tomorrow. Ferguson said: “The facilities

for both players and fans are magnificent, from training grounds to

stadia and the passion of the English people for the game would

ensure that everybody would be made to feel welcome. “It would be a

memorable occasion and would inspire people all over the world.”

The FIFA team headed to the north-east by helicopter this evening

after a day of presentations and venue visits in London.

Representatives from all the host cities, including London mayor

Boris Johnson, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy, Arsenal chief

executive Ivan Gazidis and Liverpool chief executive Christian

Purslow were involved. The FIFA team were also given presentations

on hotels, transport and security before going on a boat journey

along the Thames, after which they visited the O2 arena, the

proposed venue for the final draw. A presentation on training camps

was due to be given at Middlesbrough’s training ground this

evening, with visits to the Stadium of Light and St James’ Park

tomorrow before flying to Manchester. Howard Webb, this year’s

World Cup final referee, will meet the inspectors at City of

Manchester Stadium. One of the main presentations to the inspectors

today focused on the proposed arrangements for the final draw in

London for the 32 countries who qualify for the tournament. The bid

proposes an event where the balls for the draw are taken by river

to the Tower of London the night before the event with a 3-D

holograph of a penalty shoot-out on the river using Tower Bridge as

the goal. On the day of the draw, the balls would be taken down the

Thames to the O2 arena – the exterior of which would be transformed

into a giant football – for the draw itself.