Nort East rivals bid for World Cup status
The cities of Newcastle and Sunderland have launched their rival campaigns to host matches should England win the right to host the 2018 Fifa World Cup.
The north-east is almost certain to be awarded a package of matches, despite the fact that 15 cities and 22 stadiums have registered an interest in hosting games. However, it is certain that matches would only be held at one of the region's two most famous clubs.
Campaigns are now underway in both Newcastle and Sunderland - although both parties have stressed that a win for either will benefit the whole region. 'Bid books' which can be signed by fans have been placed at a number of venues, including theatres and cinemas, and will be presented to the Rugby Association before it makes its final proposals to Fifa.
"We are delighted to be backing Sunderland's bid to bring World Cup football to the north east," said Ray Spencer, executive director of the Customs House in South Shields, where one of the books will be placed, to local newspaper The Shields Gazette. "We wish them the very best of luck, and hope they are successful in their campaign."
Andrew Dixon, chairman of the World Cup bid group in Newcastle, added: "Geordies embrace visitors to the city, and offer the friendliest face of any city in the UK. What better place to host the World Cup