Roaring back: Three Lions Cameron,  Beckham and Prince William steer England closer to winning World Cup 2018 bid race

England's hopes of staging the World Cup in 2018 are rapidly improving with the bid suddenly on the up and up in this rollercoaster campaign.

The big fear haunting England 2018 for months - that Panorama’s corruption allegations against four of the voting FIFA ExCo members would fatally damage the bid - has been largely quashed.

This follows two of the quartet, Jack Warner and Issa Hayatou, whose votes England were targeting, making positive statements after meeting Prime Minister David Cameron and hinting that the Panorama programme will not affect their decisions.

Three Lions: Prince William, David Cameron and David Beckham at the Hotel Steigenberger in Zurich



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And in contrast to England’s Three Lions - Prince William, Cameron and David Beckham - who are hard at work here lobbying voters, there are strong doubts whether Russia’s trump card, Prime Minister Vladmir Putin, will even travel to Switzerland.

A Kremlin spokesperson said Putin has other political commitments this week in the Russian city of Kaliningrad. But if he does not show in Zurich then the Russia camp, which looked downbeat yesterday, know they will not win.

Hayatou, chairman of the African confederation (CAF), is taking legal advice over the Panorama claims that he took a £10,000 bribe from collapsed sports marketing company ISL but said: ‘There is a big difference between Panorama and my relationship with the England bid. There is no confusion in my mind.

‘This money was not for me. It was for the 40th anniversary of CAF from ISL who were one of our sponsors. I have got an appointment with my lawyers. I will talk to them and I will take it from there.

‘Panorama said that I have been bribed now rather than something that happened 16 years ago. ISL gave the money to CAF, not to me, and the executive committee of CAF accepted and approved it.’

Hayatou is also a member of the Olympic ruling body IOC, whose ethics committee will be looking into the Panorama claims.

Sign us up! David Beckham sticks his autograph on the plane before departing for Zurich

Warner, who was accused by Panorama of being involved in the selling of black market tickets at two World Cups, said after his 30-minute summit with Cameron: ‘I was pleased with the talks. They were very constructive. Mr Cameron is a knowledgable man. He knows about football, but not only that he knows about the bidding process as well. I certainly trust his knowledge of football.’

On Panorama, he added: ‘I really have no interest in this matter... now or ever.’

Cameron had a productive day, starting with a meeting with Sepp Blatter at FIFA House in the company of Beckham and international president David Dein. Panorama was discussed, and the threat to England’s 2018 bid was put to bed as far as the team here were concerned.

Key men: Prime Minister David Cameron at Heathrow, where he was joined on the flight by Beckham

Beckham said: ‘It was one of the topics that we spoke about and something that was cleared away. President Blatter brought it up within the talks and obviously it was not the easiest of things to talk about. He realised that a lot of it was old stuff.’

Cameron also saw Cyprus’s Marios Lefkaritis, a floating voter with voting links to the Spain bid who could have been persuaded otherwise by the last-minute Three Lion charm offensive.

Qatar’s Mohamed bin Hammam was the third of the FIFA ExCo invited into the England suite at the Baur au Lac hotel for a summit with the Prime Minister.

Still got it: Beckham plays football with Swiss children on his visit ahead of the key vote

Asian confederation chief Bin Hammam is central to the Qatar- Spain voting alliance, which England need to do their best to break in the short time remaining. And Cameron had further one-to-one summits planned up until 11.30 last night with other FIFA ExCo members, including Hayatou and the Emir of Qatar. He was due to fly back at 7am today for Prime Minister’s Questions.

A further sign of the team unity within the England camp was a briefing session that took place between 2018 staff and Cameron, Beckham and Prince William in the Steigenberger Hotel - certainly not one of Zurich’s plushest hotels - to plan their lobbying tactics for Wednesday.

VIDEO: England push on for 2018 victory...