World Cup blow for Ipswich

ENGLAND’S failure to land the 2018 World Cup will have repercussions for Ipswich Town.

That is the verdict of chief executive Simon Clegg, who has described the decision to give the tournament to Russia as a “great shame for the football family”.

Spearheaded by David Cameron, Prince William and David Beckham, the country’s impressive bid to stage the competition for the first time since 1966 fell at the first hurdle after gaining just two of the 22 votes available.

But it also has a knock-on effect on Ipswich, who were primed to be a training camp location for one of the 32 competing teams.

Clegg said: “It is hugely disappointing for everyone concerned. Certainly a successful bid to stage the World Cup would have had a positive effect on Ipswich Town Football Club. As a result of this failure, we have to accept that we are not going to get these benefits.”

Russia were the clear winners after the vote from FIFA’s executive members, beating England and also joint bids from Spain/Portugal and Netherlands/Belgium.

England’s surprisingly poor show could lead to accusations that the country’s bid was tarnished by the media’s relationship with football governing body FIFA – something alluded to by UEFA president Michel Platini.

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While not commenting on that, Clegg does believe that the 2018 competition – and the award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar – shows that there is some kind of agenda in the decision-making.

Clegg, who experienced similar disappointment when Birmingham and Manchester lost out in the Olympics during the 1990s, said: “You have to be impressed with how serious we took the bid and how the whole country was behind it. But sometimes the most technically competent bid does not win as we found with Birmingham for the 1992 Olympics.

“There is a political dimension to this and if the reasons behind the decision had been made clear at the start, maybe England wouldn’t have bid.”

Clegg also reflected on the ‘emotional rollercoaster’ he had endured following this week’s events at Portman Road.

A tumultuous four days have seen a heavy derby loss, a shock Carling Cup quarter-final win over West Brom and two mouth-watering cup ties ahead against Chelsea and Arsenal.

Clegg said: “We have gone from the depths of despair to the serious high of getting to a cup semi final.

“Considering Roy (Keane) had serious restrictions in terms of injuries, ineligible players and suspensions, I thought everyone played their part in digging deep and turning things around on Wednesday night.”

Clegg revealed that discussions had begun with both Premiership giants over ticket allocations, with details announced in due course.

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