NEWCASTLE is in line to host up to four games, including the play-off for third, and the region could be the home base for two countries if the Trans-Tasman bid to host the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup is successful.
The joint proposal between Australia and New Zealand is favoured to beat Colombia when the 35 members of FIFA Council vote early Friday morning on a location for the 32-team tournament.
McDonald Jones Stadium is one of 13 venues in the AsOne bid and has been flagged for group games and knockout fixtures up to the quarter-finals and potentially a play-off for third.
Newcastle has a proven record of hosting big games. A crowd of 21,079 watched the Socceroos beat Saudi Arabia 2-0 in the semi-final of the Asian Cup in 2015.
The Matildas have a perfect record at McDonald Jones Stadium, beating Brazil 3-2 in 2017, Chile 5-0 in 2018 and Vietnam 5-0 in March. The crowd of 16,829 for the Brazil match was an Australian record for a Matildas game.
The draw for the World Cup, which will be held from July 10 to August 23, won't be until late 2022.
However, the two opening matches will be played in Auckland and Sydney. Sydney, Brisbane and Wellington are possible semi-final venues. Sydney will host the final. Newcastle is among a host of contenders for the play-off for third.
As well as host games in Newcastle, Cessnock and Maitland are among the listed home bases for teams. They would stay at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley and Mercure Maitland Monte Pio and use facilities at Cessnock Sportsground and Maitland Sportsground.
Newcastle's No,2 Sportsground, Darling St Oval, Magic Park and Adamstown Oval will be used as venue training centres in the lead-up to games.
FIFA is likely to provide funding to improve lighting and other infrastructure.
The AsOne bid's chances were boosted when Japan withdrew from the running on Monday and threw support behind the Australia-New Zealand bid - effectively shoring up support in Asia.
Brazil pulled out of contention earlier this month.
The Asian Football Confederation, Oceania Football Confederation, of which New Zealand is a member, and the ASEAN Football Federation have endorsed the bid.
Australia and New Zealand received the highest score in FIFA's technical evaluation of the three bids - earning 4.1 out of five in the report, Japan (3.9) and Colombia (2.8).
FIFA's commitment to an open voting process also holds the joint bid in good stead - compared to Australia's ill-fated bid to hold the 2022 World Cup - given its strong technical evaluation.
FFA chief executive James Johnson is cautiously optimistic ahead of the vote.
"It's a far more transparent process than what the processes were last time we were in this situation in 2010," Johnson said. "Our focus has been on the merits and not the politics, that's the way we have been from day one."
While you're with us, did you know the Newcastle Herald offers breaking news alerts, daily email newsletters and more? Keep up to date with all the local news - sign up here
- Coach Adam O'Brien reveals centre Tautau Moga is close to NRL selection
- Bradman Best stood down, to miss Saturday's clash against Cowboys, following a bio-security breach
- Australian Football's latest crisis confirms theory that the more things change the more they stay the same
- Homework has Koutroumbis fighting fit for Jets return to action
- Newcastle Olympic lose Jenna Kingsley, Alesha Clifford and Olivia Kennedy