England 2018 are confident Prince William will be the strongest lobbyist from any World Cup bid team at the upcoming vote to decide the hosts for the 2018 tournament - with or without new fiancee Kate Middleton in tow.
Football Association president William will travel to Zurich ahead of the December 2 vote to try to convince members of FIFA's Executive Committee to award the tournament to England. England 2018 chief executive Andy Anson was unwilling to discuss the prospect of Middleton joining him out of what appeared deference to the Royal Family.
"He's done a number of things throughout this process already," Anson said of the Prince's impact. "When he came to Rome for the Champions League final, he spent a lot of time with various UEFA people. He was there with other visiting dignitaries and he clearly was the one that everyone was most pleased to meet."
Anson added: "He then came out to South Africa with his brother and, again, got on brilliantly, spent a lot of quality time with a number of FIFA Excos. So, he does have a lot of strong relationships and he's willing again to do whatever he needs to support the bid."
As well as William, England's lobbyists will also include Prime Minister David Cameron and David Beckham.
"I think we've got the strongest combination," Anson said. "I think it's an incredibly potent combination and I think that the fact they've been involved throughout means they're all recognisable.
"The Prime Minister has done an amazing job in the last month or two, in private discussions and private communications. The support we've had from Number 10 in the last few months has been nothing short of incredible.
"David Beckham is known and loved and has deep relationships with a number of the FIFA Exco, as does Prince William. And, the good thing is, they've got different relationships with different members of the 24. And so our strategy is to use their relationships to help the bid where they're strongest."
The trio could end up firefighting if the BBC sticks to its plans to broadcast a Panorama expose of FIFA three days before the vote. Anson accused the corporation of being "unpatriotic" and "sensationalist" over the timing of the programme, which is expected to make allegations of corruption against people involved with world football's governing body.
"If I was to weigh things up as to what's in the public interest, I think bringing the World Cup to England is very, very important to the public," he said.
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