World Cup big screen plan could be back on the cards for the city

ENGLAND fans could yet be able to watch the World Cup semi-final and - dare we mention it - final on a big screen in Portsmouth.

Monday, 9th July 2018, 8:22 am
Updated Tuesday, 17th July 2018, 6:44 pm

 Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson ruled out the possibility of watching the Sweden quarter-final in Guildhall Square following police advice on Saturday - even though Wimbledon has been aired on the big screen every day.

But under mounting pressure to bring fans together to watch England's biggest game since the World Cup semi-final in 1990, councillor Vernon-Jackson has now declared he is '˜working on other options'. 

MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, led the way with calls to have the game screened in a fan-zone. He suggested the bandstand or another area of Southsea Common could be used, if there was police and council support.

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Mr Morgan said: '˜It was a euphoric way to go through and these are the moments when England fans up and down the nation, and in our great city, can be forgiven for daring to believe something special is building.'

But Cllr Vernon-Jackson appeared to pour cold water on the idea of staging it at Southsea by saying it would cost the council £125,000.

Shadow Minister for Sport, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, has joined the debate after sending a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May urging her to give councils more support so games could be watched on big screens across the country.

After saying the idea was a non-starter on Saturday Cllr Vernon-Jackson, writing on his Twitter feed on Sunday, suggested this could now be a possibility: '˜The police advice has always been to never show football on the Guildhall Square screen. I'm working on other options.'

Portsmouth residents have also had their say - with many unhappy they could be deprived the opportunity to watch such a momentous match with like-minded fans looking to wallow in England's potential glory.

Jock MacDonald told The News: '˜I was in Brighton for the England versus Sweden match. They had it on a giant screen on the beach. No trouble at all just everyone having a great time.'

Adrien Laming said: '˜Other cities in the country are able to organise an outdoor big screen event, without any apparent issues.'