Hosting the Rugby League World Cup could lead to economic and sporting benefits for Sheffield, the man behind the city’s bid to stage the tournament has claimed.
Sheffield submitted its final bid to the competition’s organisers earlier this month in the hope of convincing them the city should be given a taste of the 2021 tournament.
The joint bid from Sheffield Council, Sheffield United, SIV and Sheffield Eagles means the world's top teams could play at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane when the World Cup comes to England between October 23 and November 27, 2021.
Gary Clifton, major events manager at Sheffield Council, said: “We have gone for it because, arguably, it is in the top 10 sports events there are.
“Rugby league is an important northern sport and the reality is that you can’t win it if you’re not in it. We have bid for the men’s, women’s and wheelchair events, as well as being team hosts and holding a team’s training camp.”
Officials will now make site visits to assess Sheffield's facilities, ahead of a final decision in January next year.
The tournament will be the first time the men’s, ladies and wheelchair competitions will be held at the same time and the men’s games will be broadcast live on BBC television.
Mr Clifton said: “The event will bring economic as well as sporting benefits to the city. The games will be on the BBC so it’s going to be going out to a global TV audience and it’s a chance to expose the city and Bramall Lane to the world.
“There is also going to be a lot of legacy work around the tournament as well, which we want to be part of.”
Sheffield Eagles, who moved back to the city earlier this year after a four-year exile, has backed the bid and Mr Clifton said he hoped hosting the tournament would benefit the club.
He added: “The Eagles are back in the city this season and I would hope that this event raises the profile of rugby league. If we get 30,000 people for a couple of games at Bramall Lane, then it will certainly raise the profile and the Eagles will benefit.
“If the sport is in a better state in the city post 2021, then it’ll be worth it – whatever that may be. Whether it’s more people watching the Eagles, more people taking part in the sport or more awareness – it’ll be worth it.
“We are aware that there were 40 other cities and towns that originally bid to be involved so if 40 others are interested, we should be as well because there is something quite special happening.
“These kind of events don’t come around very often and it’s a great opportunity for the city."
Mr Clifton said the city would formally launch a ‘Back the Bid’ campaign at the Steel City Derby between Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday on Friday, November 9.
There will then be a series of events in the city before the organisers make a final decision in January.
Visit www.rlwc2021.com for more information.