PLYMOUTH Argyle Football Club is today announcing that it is leading a consortium bid to become a Host City for the 2018 World Cup in England, should England be chosen to host the tournament.
The Host City bidding competition is being run by the Football Association, which is leading England's bid to host the World Cup in nine years time.
PAFC will head a consortium of regional supporters, including Plymouth City Council, Devon County Council, Cornwall Council, the University of Plymouth and the Plymouth City Development Company.
The bid will be managed by a company called Plymouth World Cup Bid Ltd (PWCBL), which is being formed especially for the purpose. PWCBL will be independently chaired by Douglas Fletcher, Chief Executive of the Plymouth & South West Co-operative Society and Chairman designate of the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce.
It is anticipated that PWCBL's formal submission to the FA will include proposals for a new 40,000-plus seat stadium, modern training facilities, and investment in transport and hotel and leisure facilities.
A short-term priority for the consortium is defining plans for the new stadium, which would further enhance the city's vision for Central Park. The bid consortium would also look to set up new training facilities in close proximity to Plymouth for teams competing in 2018, including sites in South Devon and Cornwall.
Proposals have to be submitted to the FA by November and successful Host Cities will be announced early next year. Fifteen other cities have already applied.
PWCBL Chairman Douglas Fletcher highlighted the transformational impact a successful bid would have for the club, the city and Devon & Cornwall.
"Being a Host City in 2018 would be an enormous honour for the people of Plymouth, and a hugely positive experience for football fans throughout the South West," he said.
"Historically, Devon and Cornwall have been overlooked when major tournaments have come to the UK. We intend to put that right. Having joined the process late we have to be seen as underdogs, but we're determined to put in a bid the region can be proud of."
Hosting World Cup football in 2018 and the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower in 2020 would be two major events that would place Plymouth on the international stage and be hugely significant in helping the city achieve its vision to become one of Europe's most vibrant waterfront cities.
There would also be significant economic benefits for the region.
Leader of Plymouth City Council, Councillor Vivien Pengelly, commented: "We fully endorse England's bid to stage the World Cup in 2018 and we are committed to working with Plymouth Argyle Football Club and other partners to explore Plymouth's potential as a Host City for what is one of the world's largest and most exciting sporting events.
"A successful bid would have a catalytic impact on the economy and fabric of both Plymouth and the wider region and would bring international football to Devon and Cornwall for the first time in many years."
Commenting on regional investment, University of Plymouth Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive Professor Wendy Purcell said: "Plymouth, as a developing city, is becoming an increasingly vibrant place to live, work and study and this is an opportunity to enable it to fulfil its true potential, showcasing it to the world.
"The consortium is driven by its commitment to leading transformational change in the region and leaving a lasting legacy for future generations."
The bid is entirely aligned with PAFC's plans for developing the footballing and commercial sides of the Club. The new Board is expected to outline a Five-Year Plan at the end of the year.
PAFC Chairman Sir Roy Gardner commented: "We have said that we are targeting Premier League football within five years.
"Our Host City bid will give a big boost to our plans for the development of the Club and the realisation of this goal. We are setting out to establish 'a New World' for the Club and the fans. The bid will now form a key part of that."
Commenting on the Consortium's prospects, Sir Roy added: "The Boardroom changes we announced in July prevented us from joining the bid process any earlier.
"We are starting some way behind the other cities, but we've been given the green light by the FA so we're going for it 100%."