England 2018 – Now Unsupportable?

32 By Ian  |   The Ball  |   December 16, 2009  |     11

Hats off to the 2018 World Cup committee! They trimmed the list down from sixteen to twelve cities as potential venues to host matches for the 2018 World Cup should England, and they left Milton Keynes in. The bid has so far been a troubled one – this much we already know for certain – but the one thing that the FA had largely been able to depend upon had been, broadly speaking, a high degree of public support. The decision to include Milton Keynes into the end game of the selection process, however, will anger a good number of people – significantly, a good number of the people that make up the bread and butter of football supporters, who continue to regard the franchising of football to Milton Keynes as an abomination. For those of you that think that we may simply be projecting a few of our own prejudices, though, here are a few sample thoughts on the subject from forums today:

Not for me. I’d rather ONLY London grounds were used than this travesty. Home of football? FFS. The FA let Winkelman steal a team and introduce the idea of a franchise into English football, then a few years later basically reward him for doing so by giving them WC matches? It’s absolutely unbelievable. I don’t care if it’s the finest stadium in the world, it shouldn’t even have been allowed to submit a bid for consideration. The FA are now so far out of touch it beggars belief, even for them. An absolutely disgraceful decision and one that, regardless of whether they agree with it, spits in the face of all true fans, not just Wimbledon supporters. (Brighton & Hove Albion – North Stand Chat)

Nothing in (the massive connurbation of ) South London, but the FA falling over themselves to help Winkleman and the Franchise club – again ! (Crystal Palace – CPFC.net)

Shame MK are there though. Someone earlier said ‘What Winkleman wants, he usually gets”, and it would have been nice to see his smugly grin wiped off his face. (Leyton Orient Official Forum)

MK, Jesus thought they would come to England for the history of the game, not steeped in history, is it? What will they do with the ground after its over? (Aston Villa – Villatalk)

Fuck Milton Keynes and their plastic fucking creation. (Leeds United – WACCOE)

Milton Keynes is a disgrace, a pre-fab football team playing at a hockey stadium. (Hull City – Amber Nectar)

You don’t even have to be particularly pro or anti Milton Keynes to understand that to pick a host town for a bid that has already appeared divided enough is a strange move, particularly when two cities – both Bristol and Plymouth – were chosen as well from the south of England as well as four from London, from which as many as three may be selected. This, however, is the FA further legitimising their decision to allow the franchising of football to Milton Keynes. They had to choice one of three other cities – one of which is currently hosting Premier League football – but decided instead to be sold the “MK Project”. A bid that is likely to contain a considerable amount on the subject of England as the “Home Of Football” will contain one town that snatched a place in the Football League from a club that had worked its way into this exclusive group and has no football history to speak of other than a string of non-league clubs that failed due to a lack of local interest.

Neither does the bid say much for the notion of clubs spending within their means. Plymouth Argyle (average attendance so far this season: 10,726) have committed to a 46,000 seater stadium at a cost of £50m. If they’re not in the final twelve selected, they still intend to redevelop the stadium to hold 27,000 people at a cost of £20m. Bristol City, meanwhile, lost £6.5m in the year to the end of May 2009, but they (average attendance so far this season: 14,424) intend to build a new, 40,000 capacity seater stadium. This one is expected to cost £92m. Nottingham Forest, meanwhile, have only just stabilised financially after more than a decade of financial difficulties. They intend to build – you guessed it – a 40,000 seater capacity stadium which is projected to cost £50m, a figure that seems likely to increase considerably. In the high excitement of being invited to the World Cup party, rather too few questions about who is going to be paying for this orgy of plastic bucket seating in a decade during which – at a public spending level – the key watch word is like to be “austerity”.

It’s worth remembering that none of Milton Keynes, Bristol, Plymouth or Nottingham have won anything yet. The next step, for the England 2018 committee, is to win over FIFA. The rights and wrongs of which towns and cities should or shouldn’t be hosting the World Cup finals are unlikely to be scrutinised too closely by FIFA, though. However, if the Football Association wanted all of us to get behind the bid, they have probably failed. For some of us, though, repeatedly shoving David Beckham in our faces whilst shouting “AWESOME! HOME OF FOOTBALL!” isn’t quite enough, and very little in today’s selection has done anything other than make the heart grow slightly wearier. Ten years ago, the thought of not supporting an England bid for the World Cup finals would have been pretty unthinkable, but a lot has changed over the last ten years and it’s just not that easy any more.



Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.

  • December 16, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    Dermot O'Dreary

    Absolutely right. The 2018 will no doubt focus heavily on England’s football tradition and history, so Honest Brian & Co decide to include the home ground of the Bletchley Stealers. Good work, Brian – it won’t take any of the other bids long to pull that one apart will it? Or have you got your new best mate Pete (as you so nauseatingly referred to him today) on board to see if he can lie, bullshit and arse-lick his way to getting what he wants from FIFA in the same way that he’s been conning the FA for years.

    Truth is, there’s more to this than just the World Cup bid – ever since those twats Stride and Parker (independent, my arse) allowed the franchisation of Wimbledon FC, the FA have been desperate for this to work so that their stupidity can in some small way be justified. Bollocks to all of the other clubs in the area, and their history, Wankey and his Franchise are our priority in that part of England – that, folks, is the Milton Keynes way.

  • December 16, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    Steven White

    Now that Milton keyens have been selected I hope that England do not win. That man winkleman or wankerman really is a top notch cock and the bloody FA seem to love him.

  • December 16, 2009 at 11:26 pm


    It’s not really surprising that the football authorities are so desperate to to legitimise Franchise FC, after their disgraceful decision to allow some egotistic “music promoter” to relocate an established football club to a concrete new town.
    Their supporters’ attempts to gain some measure of respectability has also been aided and abetted by the Football Supporters’ Federation, by allowing them membership of the FSF. But there again the FSF, under the leadership of Malcolm “Rentaquote” Clarke, have long lost touch with grassroots football by preferring to adopt a fawning attitude to the FA and the England side.

  • December 17, 2009 at 4:43 am

    Micky F

    Disgraceful decision by the FA to choose Concrete Cow City as a WC venue and to support that troll Winkleman. As a Luton supporter I’ve long suspected that the FA’s excessive 10 point penalty was designed to knobble us and allow Franchise FC to exploit our fall into the Non-league. I now hope that England doesn’t get the WC and if it does I hope all true football supporters boycott any games played there.

  • December 17, 2009 at 6:11 am


    Pete Wankerman’s quote was priceless: “Milton Keynes has made a huge investment in football and is a great testament to how important football is in communities across England.”

    On the plus side they’ll have to redevelop the Asdabowl go host games, and with a bit of luck it’ll bankrupt them.

  • December 17, 2009 at 7:22 am


    It’s a disgusting decision. Now doubt Winkleman will now be given funds to develop his stadium (probably getting the franchise out of the huge financial hole they are in).

  • December 17, 2009 at 9:35 am

    Matt R

    Can only agree that this move makes the bid unsupportable. I was unsure in any event… memories of Euro 96 and top whack being charged for the France – Czech semi final leaving Old Trafford half empty.

    But the inclusion of MK in the bid is nauseating. And as has been pointed out, brainless. Why alienate a significant proportion of the fanbase?

  • December 17, 2009 at 1:04 pm


    Why hasn’t anyone else mentioned the very original franchise club being legitimised by having their ground on this list? Emirates anybody?

  • December 17, 2009 at 1:57 pm


    Just what I would expect from any decision the FA are even remotely involved with. They are, and always have been, more interested in legitimizing their own mistakes, failures and weaknesses than righting any wrongs.
    OK FA, you let franchise FC ponce a league position while condemning the real Wimbledon team to rebuild from the combined counties league up (something MK Dongs Should have done) and leave local teams in the MK area to suffer with reduced gates and then you stick two fingers up at every AFCW supporter (and others who understand and care about what was condoned if not sanctioned by you) by this inflammatory decision.
    Someone should explain to the FA that the main idea in football is to win and not to keep scoring own goals and losing supporters by your ineptitude. With any luck this latest fiasco will blow up in Winklemanns face and he will be left holding as crippling a financial burden as Wembley has become. American Football played at the home of the real game. Mind you, anything for a buck, eh FA.

  • December 17, 2009 at 2:07 pm


    Sorry – got a little carried away – yet again another excellent article. Hats off to you Ian.
    I am English but couldn’t care less now if the bid was won as I would end up thinking “for whose benefit”!

  • December 17, 2009 at 3:17 pm


    It’s almost like our bankrupt FA and Government don’t want to win the right to host an expensive tournament with few real extra long-term benefits……

  • December 17, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    The Sweeper: England’s World Cup Bid Goes Against Its History | Pitch Invasion

    […] It is indeed a bizarre choice in terms of England’s World Cup bid’s considerable reliance on the tradition of football as a key selling point. MK Dons attempted erasure of Wimbledon’s history and identity is something we’ve covered extensively here before, and Two Hundred percent has a lot on the strong reaction against the inclusion of Milton Keynes. […]

  • December 17, 2009 at 10:08 pm


    Nottingham Forest need a new ground like Simon Cowell needs to thumb a lift……

    Seriously, what sort of legacy would a whole host of new stadia for traditional Division 2 clubs like Forest,Bristol City and Plymouth leave? Apart from the host club playing to half empty souless bowls every fortnight while the traditional homes become retail outlets……

    Winkleman, Jesus what a cock, heard him on TalkSport this morning, the blokes a walking soundbite and full of shite.Everything I detest about modern football administrators encapsulated in one steaming pile of designer suit and bad hair.

  • December 18, 2009 at 12:05 am


    The world cup bid actually offers Forest a once in a lifetime to upgrade facilities using non football derived funding. The plan would be to vacate the existing site which would free up valuable riverside properties. Some of this property is owned by the club, however the land the ground lies on is owned by the City Council. The money received for rescinding the lease and selling the property they own will go towards funding the ground. The new ground would be situated in an area that will be designated as an expansion area for the City. The intention is that the money raised by selling the land for housing and ancillary development opportunities will also be used to fund the new stadium and a sports and parkland area adjacent to the river.The Nottingham bid has been quite canny. FIFA like to see a legacy and the new ‘green’ stadium and park area, plus the promise that the stadium would become a wembley for women (on the back of record attendances for the Women’s FA Cup final)ticks a number of boxes for both Nottingham and the bid in general.

    If England don’t get the world cup Forest will stay where they are and will need to raise the money from the football side of the club to upgrade facilities to 21st Century standards.Our Main stand is over 40 years old and the facilities in the stand are looking increasingly dated and are also restrictive to commercial opportunities. Therefore, this has been an opportunity that is too good to miss for the club.

  • December 18, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    John A

    Does the list not get trimmed by a couple if we actually get the nod anyway?

    I’m sure MK will get the boot if that happens. Here’s hoping!

  • December 18, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Lanterne Rouge

    Perhaps time for coordinated, formal protest accompanied by a refusal to back the bid whilst MK remains in there? Also, anyone who has ever been to that ground, please, please stop going.

  • December 18, 2009 at 7:06 pm


    Aww is everyone upset because a wel-situated stadium with good transport connections got picked over some shit-holes. Honestly, grow up.

    The locations of the stadia in Euro 96 were far too weighted in the North – there needs to be more in the South East were a quarter of the population live.

    Shouldn’t we be more concerned about Ken Bates getting any benefit from Leeds being included on the list, than this frankly pointless bleating about a club no one cared enough about to stop the sale of its only asset – its league place.

    Merry Xmas everyone

  • December 18, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    Dermot O'Dreary

    sp3ktor – there’s no polite way to say piss off is there?

  • December 18, 2009 at 11:16 pm


    Well intelligent debate normally covers it – listing arguments that amount to more than “oh but what about the poor fans”.

    Of course, if all you have is “piss off” feel free.

  • December 19, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Michael Wood

    I love people like Sp3ktor.

    Sp3ktor proves that if you want to hold a view then you have to be prepared to represent even people you really would not want to talk to.

    Taunting, horrible, nasty people but people who have a point.

    There are many people who disagree with the Wimbledon/MK Dons situation and those people have good reasons but other people have good reasons to feel strongly against other clubs (I’m a Bradford City fan and I’m not sure that having last season gone to Elland Road and heard songs sung at me about the fire of 1985 so I’m not sure those people should be rewarded with the chance to stage on of the biggest games in the world. Likewise Spurs fans get a game but what if a Sol Campbell style situation were to emerge and the 2018 World Cup was marred by that sort of chanting?)

    Sp3ktor is annoying but I would not say that he deserves a World Cup game less than those Leeds fans or those Spurs fans nor would I say that every Leeds fan, every Spurs fan or every MK Dons fan could be characterised by the actions of others.

    Ostracising any set of football supporters – be it the MK Dons fans or any other – only goes to ensure that a Wimbledon style situation could happen again. Where supporters would be ignored.

    At least that is what I think.

  • December 21, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Dermot O'Dreary

    By their very nature, franchise “supporters” cannot be genuine football supporters. They deserve nothing other than undying total and utter contempt from all true followers of the game.

  • December 21, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Dermot O'Dreary

    Oh, and sp3ktor, I could say far, far more but anyone prepared to defend and/or justify THAT decision simply isn’t worth the time and effort.

  • December 21, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Micky F

    SP3ktor, There are plenty of better choices in the South of England for venues. Why wasn’t St Mary’s on the shortlist as it is already bigger than the MK Stadium? It’s easy to say that it’s pointless bleating but if MK had rocked up on your doorstep (I’m assuming that you’re not a Franchise FC supporter) I think you might feel a bit pissed when they start trying to steal support off of your club and the FA and Football League seem to be bending over backwards to help them.

  • December 21, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Michael Wood

    @Dermot O’Dreary – So you have an idea of genuine football supporter that casts out MK Dons fans but does it includes Leeds United fans mentioned above, or the Spurs fans? (no offence to supporters of those clubs who feel unfairly maligned)

    Are the interests of football fans only worth protecting if they are what you class as “genuine football supporters”? If I remember it was the dismissive attitude to Wimbledon supporters that brought about a situation where the club could be stolen.

    For people in the name of that cause to dismiss other football supporters as not being genuine seems to miss the point that the MK situation occurred because of people dismissing football supporters.

  • December 21, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Dermot O'Dreary

    Michael – it is not possible to be a genuine football supporter and a ** **** supporter. There’s no debate. All other clubs have good and bad elements to its support, but no other club’s supporters are legitimising the theft of a football team, simply because they collectively were too lazy to try and build a club from scratch. Perhaps if the football frenzied citizens of Milton Keynes had got off their arses and backed one of their local teams – and Stevenage Borough have proved that you can get from park football to the verge of the Football League in 30 years – people might give them, their team and their town (not city, TOWN) the respect they feel they deserve.

  • December 21, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Michael Wood

    @Dermot O’Dreary – Well in the real world there is no difference between a MK Dons supporter and a genuine football supporter. People will rip them off all the same, the police will arrest them for nothing all the same, they will be asked to pay far too high ticket prices all the same and the way that such things are allowed is because football fans on the whole do not realise that they have far more in common with their bitter rivals than they do with most other people.

    AFC Wimbledon fans have more in common with MK Dons fans than they do with 90% of the population who could not give a stuff about football and on the whole and in the majority of cases what is good for one is good for the other.

    Of course extending your argument you could say that the Arsenal fans who are based in North London legitimise the moving of that club away from its fanbase but that all happened a long time ago and no one would think that now.

    It is the division of the whole of football supporting into tiny tribes that allows us to be marginalised in the past (the 1980s and all the horrors that came with it) and our voices to be ignored now. If the whole of football is broad enough to accept the rehabilitation of even Leeds United fans (and I’ve seen them at their worst) then it must be able to take in MK Dons fans (while not having to agree with the decisions that created them)

    Continuing a campaign against them just continues divides in football and weakens the voice of the football supporter and a weak voice for football supporters is what caused (many things including) the MK Dons stealing in the first place is it not? Were the supporters of the other 91 clubs to have stood as one and pressured their chairman into voting it down because a strike against one club’s fans is a strike against us all it would not have occurred.

    None of which is to say that you personally have to like MK Dons or change your opinion on the fans or the club just that if you are motivated by the disgust at what happened to Wimbledon and want to make sure that it never happens again then continuing the disunity in football is counter-productive to that aim.

    If you just want to grind an axe against them because they stole your club then that is good for you but I’ve no reason to be for you and every reason to be against when you try get in the way of the 2018 bid which will help my club, your club and every club in English football in a time when hardly a month goes by without someone skidding into financial trouble.

    Cut off your own nose to spite your face, don’t cut off mine.

  • December 21, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    Dermot O'Dreary

    Michael, we’re just going to have to agree to differ on this then. I will never extend the hand of friendship to them, and if that’s cutting of my nose to spite my face, then so be it.

    But if you seriously believe that a successful 2018 world cup bid would help every club in England, particularly given the FA’s track record in helping non-Premier League (and non-Fab Four in particular) clubs, then I have to wonder.

  • December 21, 2009 at 6:02 pm


    it is not possible to be a genuine football supporter and a ** **** supporter.

    David Runciman manages it

    Lots of people are genuine football supporters in ways other people find strange. Some people can’t accept that others support more than one club, or that they don’t support the local club, or for that matter that they do.

    I loathe Franchise and even more, the process by which they were created, but I can quite easily see how somebody living in MK might want to support them and I see some strength in Michael Wood’s argument. I don’t entirely agree with him, not least because I don’t think the bid should simply fly in the face of what football supporters in England feel and think and I genuinely doubt that there’s any issue on which feeling is both so strong and so close to being united as this. But…I do think Michael is on the right track in seeing that MK supporters are, in the final analysis, pretty much the same as the rest of us.

    I’d add that there are other reasons for being against the bid, notably that events like this are basically a means for a small number of people to make a lot of money very quickly while holding events that are too expensive for most of us to go to. All wrapped up, of course, in the national flag to induce us to go along with it and to marginalise those who don’t. The MK business is just a symptom of the general cynicism which it involves.

  • December 21, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Michael Wood

    @ Dermot As I say – you can decide to be against anyone you want but lets not mistake that for a righteous anger. Someone did you wrong and you want your pound of flesh. Understandable if not laudable and not a good enough reason to abandon support for something that could help everyone else.

    Wonder about that all you like but the benefits of staging the World Cup are obvious and manifest (if only because of the increased level of interest in the game, not something the FA can control so the track record is not important) as anyone who recalls 1990s Semi Finals or 1996 Euros will testify to.

    After 1990 and 1996 kids asked parents to take them to football matches. Attendances rose universally in the following August, clubs were able to move out of old sheds and into shiny new stadia. My club more than most rose on that wave (and like most clubs frittered that bounty away)

    I think that the good of all is more important than grinding an axe against someone who has wronged you in the past but has no power (or desire) to harm you now but as you say we will agree to disagree on that.

  • December 22, 2009 at 2:12 pm


    It’s not clear to me that England staged the World Cup in 1990. And if it’s to serve as an example, surely the point about 1996 is not that the event was in England, but that England did well.

  • December 22, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Michael Wood

    Not meaning to split hairs ejh but I never said that those benefits were for the English and I could been saying that the benefits of host a tournament (and going out in the semi-finals) were manifest in 1996 in England and 1990 in Italy.

    I wasn’t, I just wrote an unclear sentence, but I think you knew that already :)

  • December 29, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Rob C

    There is now a petition online to try and get Milton Keynes removed from the FA’s bid: please see http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/mk2018bid/

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