Tomorrow sees FIFA decide where the 2018 and 2022 World Cups are to be played. Sky Sports are reporting tonight that England’s bit for 2018 is now the current favourite to win at the bookies, and if successful would see London host the 2012 Olympics and the World Cup Final just six years later.
Say what you like about the cost of hosting such events, however, their ability to bring in revenue to the UK economy as a whole is outstanding, with the World Cup alone expected to bring in an extra £3Bn to the UK economy if England is successful. To put that in perspective, that’s almost half the money that the UK government is offering to the Republic of Ireland.
People in Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland will bemoan that the UK Government are putting UK taxes towards an English event, however I believe that the financial benefit will be felt across the entire nation, not just England. Increased revenues will be spread out according to the proportions of the nations and increased income will mean increased funds available for all the countries in the UK.
And whilst there is the money to consider, there is also the feel good factor for the Country. In 1996 England hosted the European Championships and did quite well – they got to the Semi Finals, where they lost to the Germans – and the feel good factor was felt across the country. And when people feel happy, they spend money!! Which would be more good news for the UK economy.
So, double that up for the Olympics and suddenly sporting is helping to deliver the UK out of the Credit Crunch… and throw in a couple of Royal events (Marriage of William & Catherine and the Diamond Jubilee the year after) and we’ve got more tourists flooding into the country.
All of this is an opportunity for Northern Ireland, however, today the BBC reports that our image as a dangerous part of the world is going against us. Parties are deliberately shunning us because of the activities of dissidents. To a degree I can see both sides of the argument around this. NI is not an unsafe place in my opinion, certainly the Romanian Gymnastic team (for example) is no more or less safe in Antrim versus Birmingham (ignoring infrastructure), however, if you’re an Olympic hopeful, you’re not going to take the chance, are you.
Hopefully, over the next few weeks & months the Security Forces in NI can crack down on these dissidents and make NI a safer place, not only for the people who live there but also the people who visit & the people who invest there – for all our sakes.