England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup has secured the government backing it needs to be considered by FIFA.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the heads of the relevant government departments signed guarantees Tuesday worth about $516 million Cdn, committing the country to providing the necessary finance and infrastructure should England win the right to host the tournament.
The guarantees concern areas including tax, visas and security.
England, Australia, Japan, Russia and the United States, plus joint bids from Spain-Portugal and Belgium-Netherlands are chasing the right to host soccer's showpiece in 2018 or 2022.
Indonesia, Qatar and South Korea will concentrate on 2022, believing Europe is favoured for 2018 under FIFA's wish to rotate the four-yearly event across continents.
The bids must be submitted to soccer's governing body in May, with a decision on the hosting rights due on Dec. 2, 2010.
"The signing of the guarantees months in advance of the May 2010 deadline is a testament to the government's commitment to bringing the World Cup to England," England bid chairman David Triesman said.
"This again demonstrates England's desire as a whole to meet and exceed FIFA's requirements and guarantees FIFA the most secure environment possible for the world's biggest sporting event in terms of security, financial, legal and commercial partner delivery."
The guarantees represent the latest step in England's bid to host the World Cup for the first time since 1966.
The bid team is set to announce its host cities Wednesday, with 15 cities or towns in contention to provide a total of about 16 stadiums.
Many of the stadiums would need rejuvenating or even building anew, presenting an opportunity to upgrade in a similar way to the introduction of all-seat venues in the 1990s and England's hosting of the 1996 European Championship.
"We would deliver a superb legacy from the tournament," Minister for Sport Gerry Sutcliffe said.