David Dein spoke today at the Soccerex conference in Rio (WFI/M.Bisson)

(WFI) David Dein, president of the England 2018 World Cup bid, says his bid team is working flat out to bring the World Cup back to the country for the first time since 1966.

Speaking to reporters at the Soccerex Global Convention in Rio, Dein said: “It’s a critical time, everybody is working full-out now to try and get the World Cup back to England in 2018.

“We have to concentrate on one thing only, to give it our best shot. We are in it to win it. Hopefully we will get a good result and we need the country behind us.”

The former Arsenal and FA vice-chairman claimed the excitement around the build-up the Brazil 2014 World Cup had made the England bid even more determined to see off rivals Holland-Belgium, Russia and Spain-Portugal to win the hosting rights on Dec. 2.

“That’s what we have been working for these past two years. We have a few very interesting days to come. Obviously we want to do our best and we are in it to win it, that’s all I can say at this time.”

Dein made a brief appearance at the conference, giving a presentation to delegates on the evolution of the English Premier League, before catching a plane to Paraguay. Talking to reporters, he insisted the EPL was a great advert for English football and the bid. “We have a lot going for us,” he said.

The England 2018 bid is staging a day-long safety and security seminar at the home of CONMEBOL in the Paraguyan capital Asuncion on Tuesday, part of its campaign to woo the South American FIFA Executive Committee members.

Serving as a meeting to educate South American federations and clubs affiliated to CONMEBOL, it will give Dein – the most well-connected member of the England bid – a chance to rub shoulders with the confederation president Nicolas Leoz and leading football officials from the region.


Dein presents FIFA honorary president Joao Havelange with an Arsenal shirt signed by manager Arsene Wenger (WFI/M.Bisson)

have done it, we have been through the pain barrier. Now we can give it back through our administrators,” Dein told the conference.

Combating hooliganism, best practice ticketing systems and stewarding are among topics to be discussed at the meeting.

Dein talks about the hooliganism that blighted English football in the 1980s – what he calls “a dark period for English football” – in a new documentary he has collaborated on that will be screened on British television early next year.

Delegates were treated to a world exclusive of the trailer to “The night football changed forever”, which looks at how a clandestine meeting in May 1990 between senior officials of the top five English clubs led to the formation of the Premier League and dramatically transformed the landscape of English football. The league became a “runaway success”, Dein says in the film.

By way of explanation, Dein pointed out that the Premier League’s turnover in 1992/93 was a meagre 46 million pounds, with average attendances of just 21,125

In 2010/11, the EPL’s turnover is 1.25 billion pounds and average gates are 34,000.

“In UEFA, it’s the first league for the money it achieves and it goes out to 210 countries around the world.”

Asked how the EPL could sustain its growth, Dein predicted that stadia would continue to get bigger – making reference to the new venues planned for Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur – while TV income and sponsorship revenues would also increase “always assuming the game is kept attractive”.

In turn, he said, the EPL would continue to offer the biggest salaries and attract the best players.

“You pay the best money, you get the best talent,” he said.

Before his speech at the conference, Dein presented FIFA honorary president Joao Havelange with a shirt of his favourite European team Arsenal, which was emblazoned with the 94-year-old’s name. Despite his age, Havelange had showed the sharpness of his mind in a lengthy and wide-ranging interview conducted by two Brazilian icons of broadcast and print journalism.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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