The momentum for a joint 2030 World Cup bid in the spring by British and Irish football associations is expected to build on Friday with the drawing up of a shortlist of potential stadiums.
A meeting between governing bodies is the latest in a long-running feasibility study by the four home nations and the Republic of Ireland after failed bids by England for 2006 and 2018.
A broad agreement has already been reached that any bid should not be too London-centric – with a maximum of three stadiums in the capital under consideration.
The talks in Rome take place after England’s standing with the Fifa received a timely boost. Greg Clarke, the FA chairman, was elected vice-president of the world governing body on Thursday, replacing David Gill in the £190,000-per-year role. “It allows English football to be represented on the highest stage,” he said. “I get to go to the Fifa Council and begin the debate on how we grow global football, where tournaments are awarded.”
Clarke is among officials meeting in Rome to discuss World Cup credentials across Britain and the Republic of Ireland. Some of the UK’s biggest grounds – such as Old Trafford, Anfield and, potentially, Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium – would need significant modifications to meet Fifa’s hosting specifications. The venues, if chosen, may need to be adapted by making more run-off space at the sides of the pitches, and increased room for photographers.
The FA and its partner associations are expected to agree on a 40,000-seat minimum for the bid. Northern Ireland’s Windsor Park has a capacity of just 18,000, but the other nations have stadiums big enough. Fifa has final say on which venues would be used.