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

Milton Keynes

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There’s more positivity to England’s World Cup bid after yesterday’s announcement of the candidate cities, with Henry Winter excitedly writing in the Telegraph that “England can play down ace after ace.”

But there is plenty of negative commentary too. In the comments on our post yesterday about the surprising inclusion of Plymouth as a candidate city, Penfold wrote a long and thoughtful commentary on what he called the other more controversial choices: Milton Keynes, Hillsborough and Elland Road. The first, as we commented in the Sweeper yesterday, is undoubtedly the most disturbing inclusion of all. Penfold’s comment is worth quoting in full:

MK Dons and MK Stadium, let us not forget, only exist due to the despicable decision to allow a franchise to enter English football. This is not something we should be promoting in the home of football – a particular aspect the FA continue to peddle in it’s bid for the 2018 World Cup. The Guardian provides a good comment on the inclusion of this stadium right here. Coupled with this is the fact that Milton Keynes is a god-awful ‘new’ town lacking any sort of character, ambience or charm.

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.

Milton Keynes’ page on England’s official World Cup bid site of course does not mention how MK Dons came into being, instead saying that “It’s our vision and willingness to think differently that in 2004 saw Milton Keynes become England’s newest football city with the formation of the MK Dons, who in 2007 moved to the state of the art stadium:mk.” I think that nonsense speaks for itself. As Barney Roney says at the Guardian, “Including Stadium MK ahead of failed bids by Derby, Hull and Leicester is a stamp of legitimacy for the controversial project overseen by Dons owner Pete Winkleman.”

Henry Winter also comments on the “the exciting legacy potential” of including Milton Keynes. But the unhappy legacy they already have is not one that should be included in England’s World Cup bid in the first place.

Worldwide News

  • There is a lot more in today’s British press on Mick McCarthy’s weakened Wolves side at Old Trafford, with many defending the decision, pointing out the team still had six internationals and that, as Paul Wilson puts it, this may have been their strongest side in terms of fitness concerns. Tony Cascarino, though, takes the opposite view, urging the Premier League to punish Wolves.
  • Matt Scott has the latest on Liverpool’s owners’ efforts to pull themselves out of the financial hole they have dug themselves, caustically writing that “Apparently, despite all evidence to the contrary, the co-owners believe Liverpool to be worth of £500m to £600m. So for that £62m you can buy yourself a little over 10% of a club that still has to spend more than £300m on building a new stadium.”
  • Paul James has a piece on the (re)rise of the Vancouver Whitecaps that’s interesting enough, but quite remarkable for its doughy-eyed enthusiasm while also managing to take a sideswipe already at Toronto FC on the “professionalism” of the organisation.

The Sweeper appears every weekday, and once at the weekend. For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow your editor Tom Dunmore @pitchinvasion on Twitter.

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