By Site reporter
Tuesday 29 Apr 2008 22:12:24
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Hopes that Pompey could be one of the hosts if England's bid to stage the 2018 World Cup have been boosted by news FA bosses have already visited the city to check out its credentials.

Staff from Soho Square visited a few days ago to discuss the idea of Pompey's new stadium being one of the venues for matches if the FA's application to host the tournament is successful, reports The News.

Portsmouth is the only city in the south east so far been approached by the association - a move first reported on this website more than a week ago.

Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson told 'It wasn't us going to them – they came to us, and that is a massive vote of confidence in the city. South of London, there's nowhere else that can even come close to what we can offer.

'In the past, people have felt that the city has been ignored, had a tough time and a raw deal. For people like the FA to be coming to see us as part of the World Cup is a huge boost of confidence.'

The association is looking for up to 12 grounds across the country to form its World Cup bid, with Wembley taking centre stage.

Pompey's involvement depends on the new stadium at Horsea Island, which is due for completion in August 2011, being ready in time. It had been reported the FA would also be interested if Fratton Park was to be redeveloped instead of a new stadium being built.

Pompey would also have to find a way to accommodate 45,000 seats – 9,000 more than they originally planned – as FIFA rules dictate any World Cup stadium must have more than 40,000 seats.

Pompey spokesman Gary Double said the club had 'exploratory talks' with the FA.

Adrian Bevington, director of communications for the FA, said: 'There are another few months before we even need to officially declare our bid and there are going to be another couple of years before we actually submit it.

'This is an area of the country where there are not that many stadium options at the moment.

'At the moment, there will be a process of dialogue between Portsmouth City Council and the football club, but this is a good catalyst for further development.'

In other news, Pompey's medical staff say John Utaka and David James are making good recoveries from their respective injuries - there seems little risk of either not being fit for Wembley.

And the Blues' final 3,900 tickets for the Cup final sold out in four hours, leaving many more fans disappointed and some complaining they got cut off halfway through booking their seats.

Finally, the reserves' scheduled clash with Fulham at West Leigh Park on Tuesday night was called off because of a waterlogged pitch.

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