The main thing England's
flagging 2018 World Cup bid has going for it - other than the macabre can't-look-away grisliness of a truck ploughing into a
supermarket - is tradition.
You see, we invented football. We might not be very good,
but it is our sport.
The rules of something resembling the modern game were drawn
up at a meeting of influential public schools at Cambridge University
in 1848, and nine years later the world's
oldest club, Sheffield FC, were formed.
There is a deep irony that the only people who care about
English football's history are
The likes of Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti wax lyrical
about managing in the sport's
birthplace, while we English unthinkingly swallow a Premier League endorsed
version of history in which anything before 1992 is just a quaint historical
So it should come as little surprise that the shortlist of
potential host venues contains two cities that feature about as heavily in the
history of football as Jason Orange's
singing does on a Take That album.
might be a big city with plenty of hotel beds, but it lies smack in the middle
of rugby country, and has no more business hosting the World Cup than it does the
world championship of sumo.
As for Plymouth.
Well, they are a nice enough club. But if you're
going for lower league kitsch, why not go for one of the game's early powerhouses like Preston or Blackpool?
But the two West Country contenders look positively
deserving next to the biggest blot on the English shortlist - a town that has
only existed for 40 years and had to nick its team from London in 2004.
Just what is Milton Keynes
doing in contention to host the World Cup? Is it an attempt to be modern,
progressive and inclusive? If so, it is absolute madness, and indicative of England's bid team's
insistence on playing to their weaknesses.
COMING UP: Four more Premier League games tonight, with live
text comments on the lot:Arsenal v Burnley (19:45 UK time), Chelsea v Portsmouth (19:45), Tottenham v Manchester City (20:00), and Liverpool v Wigan (20:00).