Sheffield's hopes of hosting League World Cup fixtures in the Steel City have moved one step closer to reality after the city passed the first stage of the selection process.
The joint bid from Sheffield City Council, Sheffield United, SIV and Sheffield Eagles has progressed to the candidate stage, which 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.
The Steel City could also host games in the ladies and wheelchair competitions, at the Olympic Legacy Park and the EIS, and is also bidding to host one of the competing teams.
Officials will now make site visits to assess Sheffield's facilities, ahead of a final decision in January next year.
Dave McCarthy, operations director at United, said: “To make the candidate stage for such a prestigious global event is incredible for the club and the city and will generate income which will be reinvested back into the Blades.
“The Rugby League World Cup 2021 team are looking to deliver the most viewed tournament ever which will showcase Sheffield to a global audience of millions. Through continual investment in the stadium, we’re capable of attracting the biggest and best events to Bramall Lane.
“Sheffield and Bramall Lane are renowned for sporting legacy and we would be extremely proud to work with the organisers to help deliver a long-lasting legacy that celebrates the heritage of the sport and increases interest around the world.”
Councillor Mary Lea, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure added: “Following on so quickly from the Football Association’s announcement of Sheffield’s key role in its Women’s UEFA Euro championship bid, this is further evidence of Sheffield’s ambition and status as a world class destination for all sport.
“The Rugby League World Cup is a very high-profile, global event, and the rewards of a successful bid could be very substantial, not only in terms of the economic returns, but also in terms of the huge boost to development of the city’s rugby league traditions, and in terms of the inspiration we know that top flight sport in Sheffield provides to all our citizens, but particularly to young people.
“We are proud to be playing our part as a council in backing the bid.”
The 2021 Rugby League World Cup will be the 16th staging of the event. The tournament will be one of the most inclusive and diverse events ever hosted in England, incorporating the men’s, women’s and wheelchair World Cup disciplines.
Andrew Snelling, chief executive of SIV, which operates 13 sport and entertainment facilities in Sheffield, said: “We’re really proud to be part of the team which has helped Sheffield onto the candidate city shortlist. Our sporting facilities are some of the best in the country and it would be a privilege to host this prestigious event. We want to engage and inspire local people through the Rugby League World Cup, make the sport accessible for all ages and abilities and create a lasting legacy.”
Liam Claffey, chief operating officer at Sheffield Eagles, added: “This is a great news and would be a excellent springboard for the development of Rugby League within the city and for the Eagles.
“We have and are continuing to work closely with all parties and we have had positive discussions with RLWC 2021 officials about the desire for the Eagles to be an integral part of the city’s’ bid to help spread rugby league within the region and for the Rugby League World Cup 2021 to leave a lasting legacy in Sheffield.
“The bid organisers have a great record of hosting high-profile and prestigious events and It would be fantastic to see the RLWC 2021 at our home, the Olympic Legacy Park and across the city, utilising the superb facilities that Sheffield has to offer.”