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By ESPN Staff
Dec 16, 2009

England set to unveil candidate cities for 2018

England 2018 World Cup bid chiefs will announce the names of the cities that will be part of their campaign on Wednesday.

Fifteen cities are bidding to become "candidate cities" and these will be whittled down to around 12 cities containing up to 18 stadiums.

The cities in contention are: Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Newcastle/Gateshead, Nottingham, Plymouth, Sheffield, Sunderland.

England 2018 deputy chairman Lord Mawhinney, who is head of the selection panel, said: "The selection panel's job has been a tough one. FIFA's technical standards understandably are very high and it is vital we are as thorough as possible right through to the end of the process.''

Meanwhile, the bid has been given fresh impetus after the Government signed off all the guarantees required by FIFA.

Sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe said the financial guarantees of £300 million and other commitments regarding security, visas and tax were a sign that, after a period where the bid board was riven by disagreements and criticism, unity has returned to the campaign.

Sutcliffe said: "It is now united, and the guarantees combined with our offer of a £2.5 million loan which is on the table if they want to pick it up, underlines that.

"I think the board moves were right and my concern now is that football will deliver us this bid, as they have to get the votes of the 24 FIFA executive committee members. Signing off the guarantees at this early stage puts the bid in good shape.''

The guarantees have been agreed by all political parties and signed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other ministers from relevant departments.

Sutcliffe added that it was important to have the commitments in place before the general election next year.

FIFA oblige bidding nations to sign a confidentiality clause so the exact details of the guarantees are not being released. It is likely that the tax guarantee is similar to the deal the Government agreed with UEFA in order to stage the 2011 Champions League final at Wembley, where foreign players will be exempt from being taxed on their tournament earnings.

England bid chairman Lord Triesman said it would be impossible to host the tournament without such commitments.

He said: "The signing of the guarantees months in advance of the May 2010 deadline is a testament to the Government's commitment to bringing the World Cup to England, in particular the sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe and his officials who have worked very hard to secure them so early.

"The guarantees underpin around £300million worth of financial commitment without which it would be impossible to host the tournament.

"This again demonstrates England's desire as a whole to meet and exceed FIFA's requirements and guarantees FIFA the most secure environment possible for the world's biggest sporting event in terms of security, financial, legal and commercial partner delivery.''

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