FIFA have confirmed the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups will be decided at the same time - but not put any block on countries bidding for both.
At one point it was felt football's world governing body would state only bids from European countries would be accepted for 2018 - which would have offered a big lift for England, who have already declared their intention to lodge an application.
However, FIFA had started to move away from that position and have now formally decided to accept bids from countries for two competitions at the same time.
It means potential hosts such as Australia and China could go for both.
Europe is still expected to land 2018, but the presence of countries outside UEFA in the bidding process could split a complicated voting structure and potentially squeeze England out.
FA chairman Lord Triesman is in Tokyo to meet key FIFA figures, with the political work moving up a further notch next month when 2018 bid chief executive Andy Anson takes up his full-time post.
Bid registration forms will be issued by FIFA from next month, with the decisions on who hosts which tournaments to take place in December 2010.
Having not hosted a World Cup since 1966, England should be among the favourites.
However, arguments between England's main powers have undermined the desire for a united front - while doubts have also been raised over the amount the Government are willing to contribute, given the level of funds that have been washing around in the sport thanks to massively increased TV deals.
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