In today's Telegraph, Seb Coe uses the latest edition of his monthly column to discuss the mooted England bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup. What he writes could well be described as being a very healthy dose of reality and it is a timely reminder that no matter how good our stadia are, or how deep our passion for the game of football, if the figures responsible for making our bid are substandard, then we will fail.
Coe tells us how during the campaign for London's 2012 Olympic Bid, he came into contact with delegates who were less than impressed with those responsible for the failed 2006 World Cup bid....
On more than a few occasions when selling London's case, particularly in Africa, to a football audience, I was unceremoniously unloaded upon about the perceived arrogance of one or two envoys who headed up England's international lobbying.
From the moment that the FA decided to bid for the 2006 World Cup, competing against Germany and shattering a 'gentlemen's agreement' that they would not do so (in return for German support for England hosting Euro '96) in the process, their campaign always seemed destined to fail. Then, as now, we had the stadia, we had the passion and Euro '96 had shown that we could keep the hoolies under control whilst staging a first class tournament. Unfortunately, we were also poltically isolated from the rest of the FIFA member countries, never having replaced the likes of Sir Stanley Rous in the world football corridors of power relying instead on our status as football's founding father for far too long.
Coe points out that our FA has started to improve England's reputation within world football through developing a coherent international relations strategy and speaheading football programmes across Africa, Asia and south Amercia. Yet he also maintains that unless we get the right people in to drive the bid, people who truly understand the lobbying process and are able to operate skilfully within it's parameters, then we cannot hope to succeed. You get the feeling that Coe is hinting that he does not believe that the FA posesses these kind of people. And given the goings on at Soho Square in recent years, you can understand why he might hold that view.
The good news though, is that we are taking our time on a bid for 2018, with the DCMS and the Treasury currently carrying out a feasability study, hopefully to ensure that our country is up to the task, before we throw our hat into the ring.