Derby's World Cup claims are as valid as most rivals'
IT will be disappointing, but hardly a great surprise, if Derby has indeed missed out on being one of the host cities for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Competition organisers insist that no final decisions have been reached on whittling down the shortlist of candidates from 18 to 12.
But weekend national press reports indicate that Derby is no longer in the running.
If this is the case, the city will miss out on what was anticipated to be a £2.5 million boost for the city's economy, without even considering the benefits of worldwide publicity.
Let us hope we can take World Cup officials at their word when they say that no ground is yet ruled out – for Derby still has as strong a case as many of its rivals.
That might sound like a surprising claim, since it does not have a leading professional club.
But a closer look at the list of candidates reveals that can hardly be key criteria.
Remarkably, only four of the 18 grounds in contention are regular rugby union venues – Twickenham, Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, Gloucester's Kingsholm and Exeter's Sandy Park.
Coventry is seen as Derby's biggest rival. Yes, it was a big club – back in the days of David Duckham in the 1960s and 1970s, hardly since.
So rugby union pedigree is plainly not a key factor in this process.
Pride Park Stadium, then, demands to be considered on its merits as a ground and Derby on its merits as a centre for visitors.
Presumably, one of the chosen grounds will be in the north-east and it is difficult to believe the pull of Old Trafford will miss out in the north-west.
But if Twickenham, Wembley and the Olympic Stadium all get the nod, surely Milton Keynes cannot be favoured as well?
Derby proved, with the Olympic torch relay and the subsequent Darley Park extravaganza, that it can put on a great show under the national spotlight.
Pride Park has successfully staged England football full and under-21 internationals.
So it demands proper consideration and not premature rejection.