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Fantasy follow-up: Week 17

Premier Fantasy
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By ESPN Staff

Niall Quinn: 2018 success a "huge help" for Sunderland

Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn believes the city will be given a huge lift after the Stadium of Light was chosen to host World Cup matches if England win the right to stage the 2018 tournament.

• Candidate cities named

Quinn, a figurehead of the city's bid to impress the England 2018 board, believes all the chosen cities will now be able to come together and rally behind the attempt to win the FIFA vote. Full details of the bid must be submitted to FIFA next May, ahead of the decision in December 2010 of which country or countries will host the World Cup.

Quinn found there was some scepticism about Sunderland's effort to bring matches to the city, but believes that will be replaced by excitement on Wearside.

He said on Sky Sports News: "Some questioned why we even went for the bid in the first place, because we'd always missed out in the past. Various things have happened in this city, in this region: the shipbuilding stopped, the coal mines closed and it's been a struggle ever since to regenerate and reinvent itself, but this is a huge help.

"This is massive for the city... it can feel really good about itself tonight and we can build from this day forward. We know now we've a job to do for the national bid. We're ready to go. The pride up here in football and to bring the greatest show on earth here... it's going to be fantastic.''

The city of Liverpool is also in line to stage matches - either at Anfield or at Liverpool FC's new stadium on Stanley Park, if building plans proceed.

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard said: "Liverpool is such an historic footballing city I'm not surprised we've been chosen. I'm 100% behind England's bid and I'd love to see World Cup games played here.''

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez added: "It's great news. This city lives and breathes football and if England are successful it will be a fantastic stage for World Cup games.''

Everton captain Phil Neville said: "This is great news for a great footballing city. But I always expected Liverpool to be selected. Any football tournament in this country without this city involved would be unthinkable. Let's hope that England now wins the bid.''

Manchester's two major stadia - Old Trafford and the City of Manchester Stadium - were also selected. Manchester United chief executive David Gill expressed satisfaction at the confirmation. Gill said: "It is great news that Old Trafford is part of England's bid.

"It is the most historic of all the venues, celebrating its centenary in February 2010, and has hosted some major games in recent years; from the UEFA Champions League final in 2003 to England World Cup qualifiers, to UEFA Champions League semi-final ties in the last two years against Barcelona and Arsenal. I am confident that its' inclusion makes England's exceptional bid even stronger.''

Manchester City chief executive Garry Cook said: "This is fantastic news for the city. Manchester has two truly world-class stadiums, which would be fitting stages for the 2018 World Cup. Everyone at Manchester City - players, staff and supporters, will be incredibly excited at the prospect of hosting games at City of Manchester Stadium, and we will be keeping our fingers crossed that the English bid is successful.''

Plymouth bid chairman Doug Fletcher said: "This is really fantastic news for the people of Plymouth, Devon and Cornwall. Ours was a people's bid and it was the people of Devon and Cornwall that won it for Plymouth.''

MK Dons chairman Pete Winkelman insists he is not surprised after the Coca-Cola League One side's stadium:mk home was named as one of the candidate host stadiums for England's 2018 World Cup bid. The Dons only moved into the Buckinghamshire town in 2003 but have seen attendances steadily rise since they moved to their state-of-the-art arena in 2007.

"It doesn't surprise me - we've had complete political unity in the city and everyone from the police to the NHS have been backing the bid," said Winkleman. "That is what made our bid stand out. To be in amongst a host of fantastic footballing cities around the country is so exciting for us and we can't wait to support the whole bid. It will be great for the country if we can pull this off for 2018.''

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