CALLS are growing for Sunderland to ask for a refund of taxpayers’ cash spent on trying to win the right to host the 2018 World Cup on Wearside.
Some £421,584.80 was spent in pursuit of the dream, which turned to disappointment after Russia was chosen.
Sunderland Council spent the highest amount of any one authority on its own individual bid, mainly as it included the £250,000 compulsory contribution to the national marketing bid.
On Tyneside, Newcastle City Council has been urged by its former leader to contact the FA get the £208,990 it spent back from football’s world governing body Fifa.
Debate about the 2018 bid expense has begun on Wearside.
Martyn McFadden, editor of A Love Supreme, said: “In hindsight it seems a massive waste of money, but then again if we had got the bid it would have been a huge cash injection for the area.
“You can see why people are asking for the money back.
“When people enter into these things they know they have to invest money.”
Mr McFadden labelled Fifa’s criteria for choosing host nations “a farce”.
He added: “Football is the biggest spectator sport in the world, and the governing needs to be called into question.”
Money spent by North East bid teams went towards helicopter flights to transport Fifa officials, as well as their accommodation at Rockcliffe Hall, Darlington.
Fifa has been in chaos recently, as allegations of bribery and corruption were made against several key figures.
President Sepp Blatter has now been re-elected unnopposed, something about which the FA publicly expressed their dissatisfaction.
Kevin Miles, of the Sunderland-based Football Supporters’ Federation, said: “We can entirely understand the anger and frustration among all of those involved in putting together the World Cup bid, particularly those who were responsible were investing public money in significant quantities.
“It’s clear that the specifications they were given, and so impressively met and exceeded, counted for nothing in what seems to have been a pre-determined decision based on entirely different, more suspect, criteria.”
Chris Alexander, head of culture and tourism at Sunderland Council and Sunderland World Cup Bid director, said: “Sunderland, as part of the FA’s World Cup bid for 2018, is aware of issues circulating around Fifa’s governorship and it isn’t appropriate to comment any further at this moment.”