Bristol’s world cup host city bid has been signed by the city’s council leaders, before submission to the FA tomorrow.
The Council’s Lib Dem leader Barbara Janke and Labour leader Helen Holland officially signed the document on Wednesday lunchtime. Tory leader Richard Eddy was unable to attend, but sent a message of support for the bid.
It will be officially presented to FA bosses during a ceremony at Wembley on Thursday.
Barbara Janke said the bid was a “once in a lifetime opportunity” for Bristol and would bring “confidence, investment and income” into the city.
But she admitted there were financial risks, with hosting games in the tournament estimated to cost at least £17m.
She said: “There are clearly significant risks, with big sums of money at stake. It is clearly our intention that council tax payers are not going to have to carry the cost of this.
“We are starting from now to look at how we can raise the necessary funds with businesses, partners and other interested parties so that in nine years time we can fully finance the world cup matches.”
She also confirmed that Portsmouth’s decision to withdraw its hosting bid would make no difference to Bristol.
Portsmouth councillors last night pulled out of the process, with Conservative leader Steve Wemyss saying: ” I would love the World Cup to come to Portsmouth, but not at any cost.
“We are deceiving the council taxpayers if we think we can afford this. Let’s say no rather than have to cut other services to pay for this. We have to be realistic.”
Barbara Janke said: “I think Portsmouth is in a different position from Bristol. The financial pressures on them are bigger than we have here.
“There are also issues about the football club and the stadium, as I understand it. I still think there is a lot of confidence amongst the cities. There are still 15 others involved.
“When I spoke to colleagues at the Core Cities conference a few weeks ago, everybody still seemed very keen and ambitious. They want to take this forward for their own cities and put their cities on the world stage, which is what we want to do in Bristol.”
Barbara Janke also gave more details on how Bristol would finance its bid, without asking council tax payers for the full sum.
She said: “We have opportunities with the business rates, but we will have to take a ballot on that. We are also hoping the government might make lottery money available.
“We have been told that we can raise the business rates locally, so we will have to have a ballot on that. The difficult thing is that the city council does not keep the business rate. It’s kept by central government and reallocated on a per capita basis.
“If we were able to keep the business rate, we would be in a very strong position to finance events like this, but sadly that’s not the case at the moment.”
Audio: Martin Jones interviews Barbara Janke