But big athletics jamboree might be here even sooner

IT helped transform and put Manchester on the map, and today Liverpool launched its own bid to host the Commonwealth Games in 2026.

In fact the city is so keen it’s saying it would even be prepared to stage the major athletics event four years earlier in 2022.

That’s because Durban, in South Africa, which, as the sole bidder, bagged the 2022 honour, has pulled out citing things such as a £467 million cost.

Manchester and London have also offered to accommodate the games-without-a-home in ’22, so it most pose the question of whether the organisers, the Commonwealth Games Federation, would go along with Britain hosting two back-to-back tournaments. 

In recent years Glasgow, as well as Manchester, have brought the games to Britain.

Fronting Liverpool’s bid is city-born sports executive Brian Barwick, the 62-year-old chair of the Rugby Football League, Super League Europe Ltd, the National League and a member of the FA Council.

Barwick is former head of BBC Sport, controller of ITV Sport and Chief Executive of the Football Association.

His “Team Liverpool” will, says the city council, bring together a group of world-leading experts with an unparalleled track record in successfully bidding for major sporting events, including the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games and the FIFA World Cup.

Brian Barwick said: “Having worked in and around sport most of my adult life, the chance to lead the work for my home city of Liverpool to host the Commonwealth Games is a huge privilege. I am delighted to be involved in this project and clear that Liverpool, with such an illustrious sports history, will make the perfect host city for the Commonwealth Games.”

Commonwealth Team 2
Flying the flag for athleticism: Denise Barrett Baxendale, Mayor Joe Anderson and Brian Barwick

The talk is of building a main arena on the docks, which conveniently would also become the new home for Everton FC.

The Echo Arena and Conference Centre would also be involved, and the city already has an Olympic sized swimming pool up at Wavertree.

Mayor Joe Anderson said: “I am delighted that Brian Barwick has accepted my invitation to chair the city’s bid to host the Commonwealth Games. He brings a wealth of experience both as a leader of some of the biggest sports organisations in the country and a successful career at the highest level in TV sport.

“Brian’s appointment, alongside a number of other highly respected advisors, sends out a powerful message that we are deadly serious about bidding for the games. We already have a first class reputation in putting on major events during and since our time as European Capital of Culture in 2008.  I firmly believe we have the passion, belief and the ability to win and deliver a Commonwealth Games that can make the whole country and the Commonwealth proud.

“The Commonwealth Games has the potential to be a game changer in further driving forward the city’s regeneration and renaissance, reflecting our growing confidence and attracting jobs, investment and profile that money simply can’t buy.”

And speaking of the thorny question of money, no actual price has yet been put on the Liverpool games.  According to the city council, costings will emerge as the bid documents are drawn up.

Working with Barwick will be one of the most prominent and respected women in sport, Dr Denise Barrett-Baxendale, a director at Everton FC who will be deputy chair of Liverpool’s bid.

Local sporting stars including heptathlon Katarina Johnson-Thompson, boxer Tony Bellew, gymnast Beth Tweddle and footballer Jamie Carragher have already backed Liverpool’s bid.

A budget of up to £500,000 has been set aside for Liverpool’s bid.  If successful, Liverpool would follow Glasgow - the most recent UK city to host the Games in 2014 - which estimated the event brought in £100 million to the city’s economy.

The mayor added: “The team of advisers now working with us is world class and over the coming months our priority is to put in place a compelling bid that will resonate with the Government, Commonwealth Games England and, ultimately, the Commonwealth Games Federation. These are exciting times for our city.”