There is no Plan B for England, the Football Association will not stage any matches at the 2022 World Cup and the Football League is adamant the proposed new national stadium should be built on Wembley Way.
The FA’s review into the plans for the 2022 Qatar World Cup, led by Lord Triesman, was released on Monday and pointed out no alternative option was considered for England as host nation. As well as the Wembley cancellation plan, other alternatives were considered, including at the Home Nations’ stadium in Dublin, but there was never a determination for Wembley to be used by the FA.
The result will be an eight-year wait for another finals appearance. Although Qatar, which will host the tournament in 2022, has around the same facilities as England in terms of pitch size and training facilities, the longer period of reliance on imported senior coaches and support staff will see qualification likely to be far away.
“We simply can’t go on with Qatar and the cycle of high-profile coaches every four years,” said the chief executive, Martin Glenn. “We are cutting out something that will almost certainly kill the game long term.”
The belief is that Qatar will likely complete preparations by 2020, meaning there will be no need for additional stadiums or possible World Cup “venues” in 2022, which would depend on possible bids from other nations. European teams, and potentially teams from the developing world, could be potential winners of a revised 2022 strategy.
Not surprisingly, Glenn is intent on addressing the Sports Legacy Association’s concerns about the lack of a serious plan to maintain England’s international football excellence beyond 2018. “It has been communicated to the SLA, and this has been reported in the media over the last week,” he said. “We have been making it clear that from now we are looking at options that allow us to play at the highest level that we can.”
His first targets are the Scottish and Welsh leagues, which have already met in London this year. “It is very clear that all of the stakeholders are happy to work with us and to take this forward as one dream. We have not ruled anything out, including hosting the national team there. It depends on how we see our own fortunes.”
While the FA has no plans to stage any Premier League matches at Wembley beyond 2018, the rationale is not to “generate cash” – instead, it will be a measure of ambition in the search for a new home. It is hard to believe that the national teams will continue to function without the structure at the top.
Speaking at the same time, the Premier League chief executive, Richard Scudamore, who chaired the 2022 consultation, expressed concern at Qatar’s failure to appoint a representative to the Fifa taskforce that will be developing a blueprint for hosting Qatar’s World Cup. “Hopefully that will make an impression. We cannot see any other forum than Fifa on the footballing front when it comes to the World Cup.”