Commonwealth Games England chief executive Paul Blanchard has praised both Birmingham and Liverpool's bids ©CGE

Commonwealth Games England (CGE) chief executive Paul Blanchard has praised the "spectacularly good bids" of Birmingham and Liverpool, after it was confirmed the former would be the proposed candidate for the 2022 event.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) confirmed Birmingham had officially been recommended to Ministers yesterday. 

It followed the Government's selection process, which was conducted by a six-person independent assessment panel.

Blanchard, who was a member of the panel, believes Birmingham have the credentials to host an outstanding event should the bid receive final approval from the Government.

"The UK’s track record of hosting events has been spectacular in the last 20 years and clearly that is a very strong proposition in itself, which is important given what went on with Durban to prompt this particular contest," Blanchard told insidethegames.

"With Birmingham, 95 per cent of the venues are already there and of really high quality.

"The proposal for the Athletes' Village is really good and it scores on a number of fronts."

Blanchard noted the Village's proximity to the main Stadium, adding: "It's part of a regeneration hub - which is a key aspect for the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) - and the likely quality of the Village would provide an extremely high athlete experience.

"Another aspect very much in Birmingham's favour is its transport hub as the airport is very close to the city and links to a number of Commonwealth cities.

"We are very happy to put Birmingham's proposition up against any criteria the CGF have."

Birmingham 2022 were confirmed as England's preferred choice, but must still securing financial backing from the Government ©Birmingham 2022
Birmingham 2022 were confirmed as England's preferred choice, but must still securing financial backing from the Government ©Birmingham 2022

Birmingham have now been required to put forward their business case for Government funding, with the DMCS stating it must show a "clear value for taxpayers' money" to receive support.

The Government will make a final decision in the coming weeks in consultation with CGE.

Should Birmingham pass the final stage of assessment, a formal bid will be submitted to the CGF.

Blanchard claimed there was no single factor which set Birmingham apart from rivals Liverpool, stating that the panel had deemed their proposal to be stronger having considered a range of aspects.

"It is fair to say both cities put together spectacularly good bids, which made it extremely difficult," he said.

"We were assessing the bids against a range of criteria, from the quality of their venues to their infrastructure, the sports programme, the likely athlete experience, technology and transport.

"But also how both bids would benefit the city, region and, importantly, the United Kingdom as a whole.

"From our perspective, we were also very keen that any bid we put forward was a positive bid as far as the Commonwealth Movement was concerned.

"It was a range of things and it was that range of things that eventually we settled on giving Birmingham the nod.

"There was not one single thing that singled Birmingham out, nor was there a single thing that counted against Liverpool.

"We ultimately scored it and felt Birmingham was the stronger bid and probably equally importantly, we felt it was a bid that would go down very well with the CGF.

"I think I speak for the rest of the panel when I say the amount of work the cities did has been Herculean to get the bids to a very high standard.

"They must take an awful lot of credit for that and CGF deserve credit after being given a hospital pass with the Durban situation, where they have responded very well."

A revamped Alexander Stadium is central to Birmingham's bid for the Games ©Birmingham 2022
A revamped Alexander Stadium is central to Birmingham's bid for the Games ©Birmingham 2022

In July, Blanchard admitted Liverpool 2022's athletics plans were a key challenge for the Bid Committee to overcome.

Liverpool 2022 proposed installing a temporary athletics track at Everton Football Club's proposed new stadium in the Bramley-Moore Dock area of the city.

The plan originally involved installing and removing the track in less than three-and-a-half months, between the final home game of the 2021-2022 Premier League season and before the first scheduled match of the 2022-2023 campaign.

Blanchard admitted the proposal had been an area examined by the panel, but denied it had counted against Liverpool in the final reckoning.

"It was clearly an area that the panel probed significantly, as it was an obvious area of focus," he said.

"But the panel felt there was very little doubt that Liverpool would build the stadium and we had comfort the build programme to incorporate the track could be managed within the time scales.

"There was a large degree of comfort with that.

"Although, ultimately, Alexander Stadium is there.

"But I would suggest it was not an area that counted against Liverpool."

Birmingham's bid includes extensive renovation work to the existing Alexander Stadium, the home of UK Athletics which has been a host of Diamond League meetings.

It would stage athletics and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

Villa Park, one of the most famous football stadiums in England which is home to Championship club Aston Villa, the NEC Arena and a brand-new aquatics facility in Sandwell are other key venues in their concept.

Under their plans, three of the NEC's largest halls would host boxing, judo, table tennis and freestyle wrestling at the Games, while the Genting Arena would host badminton.

The Barclaycard Arena has been earmarked to stage artistic and rhythmic gymnastics competition, while the Symphony Hall would be the venue for weightlifting and powerlifting.

Squash courts and hockey pitches at the University of Birmingham would be used, while rugby sevens would take place at Villa Park and the Ericsson Indoor Arena has been proposed as the netball venue.

Birmingham's Victoria Square has been included as a city centre location as the venue for 3×3 basketball and 3×3 wheelchair basketball.

A potential Birmingham bid would need to be submitted to the CGF by September 30 ©Getty Images
A potential Birmingham bid would need to be submitted to the CGF by September 30 ©Getty Images

With a seating bowl with a capacity of 3,000, it is claimed the venue would deliver an intimate and vibrant atmosphere.

Royal Leamington Spa's Victoria Park would be the lawn bowls and Para-lawn bowls venue.

Should the bid receive final Government approval and ultimately win the bidding race, Blanchard stated there remained the possibility of small changes to the sport programme, but expects the current proposal to remain largely unaltered.

England is in pole position to become hosts after Canadian city Victoria ended its bid last month because the Provincial Government declined to support it.

Kuala Lumpur had also been tipped to bid but is at the moment still seeking support from the Malaysian Government.

The bid race began earlier this year, following South African city Durban losing the hosting rights due to a lack of financial guarantees.

In a statement, the CGF acknowledged news that Birmingham had become England's preferred candidate. 

"The CGF has received confirmation that Birmingham has been selected as the preferred UK candidate city for a potential bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games," a CGF spokesman said.

"Over the past few months, an expert CGF Review Team has been working with countries from around the Commonwealth in the evaluation of proposals of a variety of host cities. 

"Submissions from candidate cities are to be submitted to the CGF by 30 September. 

"The CGF Executive Board will then take time to comprehensively review the submissions before making a final decision on the host city for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, which is expected by the end of the year.”