Plymouth World Cup Win: The View From Exeter
Last week, the City of Plymouth was named as one of the 2018 World Cup Bid cities.
The question I pose is the extent of the benefit to other clubs in Devon. England first has to win the World Cup bid. This will be a challenge. England are bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups with a raft of other countries, but it is likely a European country will win the 2018 bid, with the U.S and Australia battling it out for 2022. England`s main competitors within Europe are Russia (who has never hosted the event), and a joint bid by Spain and Portugal. It could be argued all the day the merits of the England bid over others, but that is not the point of this article.
Plymouth was perhaps surprisingly named as one of England`s host cities. The aim for geographical spread was undoubtedly a major factor in the panel`s decision. Nevertheless, Plymouth Argyle have never played in the top flight of English Football, and now hold the unenviable record of the largest city in Europe not to do so in their respective countries. In recent years Argyle have had an average attendance of only around 10,000 despite having arguably one of the largest catchment areas in the country. Whatever the outcome of England`s bid, Argyle plan to increase the capacity of its Home Park ground to 27,000. If England win the bid, and FIFA retain Plymouth as a host city, Home Park will be transformed into a 46,000 seater stadium. Argyle will struggle to reach even half this capacity unless they reach the Premiership.
Nevertheless, the success of the bid will see one of the world`s largest spectacles coming to Devon and Cornwall. This part of the country is so often cut off from major events and the economy in general. This opportunity will allow Devon and Cornwall to showcase itself as on of the most beautiful parts of the country. The region relies heavily on the tourist trade, and the event would boost businesses of all sizes. Moreover, who`s to say visitors from the rest of the British Isles and the World won`t come back to the region in the future. The legacy (a word much touted in regards to the London 2012 Olympics) of the World Cup in Devon and Cornwall could be quite substantial.
For the event itself, some teams will want to base themselves in the region, and this could benefit both Torquay United and Exeter City. Of course, the effects for both clubs will be indirect ones, but this could be quite an effect if people in the region get the 'football bug`. Of course, the risk is that they could all go and support Argyle! However, I believe that the prospect of the World Cup coming to Devon should be celebrated, and rivalries should be put aside on this occasion.