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England coming to Town

PUBLISHED: 18:00 05 February 2002 | UPDATED: 15:25 03 March 2010

HISTORY will be made at Portman Road next season when England come to town.

I understand the Football Association are planning to stage a senior international in Ipswich for the very first time.

HISTORY will be made at Portman Road next season when England come to town.

I understand the Football Association are planning to stage a senior international in Ipswich for the very first time.

And, if all goes well in the Far East this summer, skipper David Beckham and his colleagues could be parading the World Cup in front of a 30,000 capacity crowd.

Once the soccer jamboree in South Korea and Japan is over, Sven Goran Eriksson and his players will turn their attention to the qualifying campaign for the European Championship.

England will have four home qualifiers against Turkey, Moldova, Slovakia and Liechtenstein to arrange.

But the Football Association today confirmed there will also be "a number of friendlies" and this is where Portman Road comes in.

A spokesman added: "We cannot confirm anything at this stage, other than to say the Stadium of Light at Sunderland will definitely host one of the qualifying games.

"But there are also a number of friendlies to be arranged for next season, although we are not in a position to say anything more for the time being."

Portman Road has staged England youth and Under-21 games in the past, but the senior side has never been to Suffolk.

With Wembley out of the running, the FA have little alternative but to take the team on the road.

Hosting an England fixture would be a huge fillip for Ipswich and their new-look stadium currently nearing completion.

Once the North Stand is finished in the summer, the capacity will rise to 30,000 – and every seat would certainly be filled for a glamour international friendly.

It is FA policy to target schools in the area, so that youngsters can enjoy a close-up view of household names they may not otherwise see live.

With the other Euro nations involved in their own qualifying groups, it would be no surprise if England arranged friendlies with top South American or African opposition.

The game would also be a major money-spinner for Ipswich, with a percentage of gate receipts only the tip of the financial iceberg. Town would also cash in through corporate hospitality, perimeter advertising and programme sales, as well as facility fees for live television coverage.

The club is set to host an Under-19 international on Thursday week, February 14, when Germany are the visitors for a game being screened live on Sky Sports.

And if everything goes according to plan on that occasion, the FA are poised to rubber-stamp Portman Road as the venue for a future international.

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