Inside England’s Subbuteo World Cup bid including a collector’s fair, live streams and 64 top-of-the-range tables.

The proposed Subbuteo World Cup 2024 in England will feature 64 brand new Subbuteo tables, a giant Subbuteo collector’s fair and four continuous streams of the action.

It will also feature a glitzy launch ceremony at a £20 million cultural centre and the opening event could be a Subbuteo World Cup in collaboration with the brand itself for the first time since the early 1990s.

According to documents seen by Subbuteo.Online the England World Cup will be one of the biggest and most spectacular Subbuteo events of all time and has already secured the backing of clubs, the local council and even Subbuteo historian Peter Upton, who has lent his support for the event.

The document, shared with Subbuteo.Online by organisers of the event, showcases a pre-tournament reception at the Tunbridge Wells town council’s £20 million Amelia Scott cultural centre, where the council’s own display of Subbuteo rarities will be on show. It will be followed by a drinks reception and a live-streamed World Cup draw.

The tournament itself will take place at Tunbridge Wells sports centre, where 64 brand new tables featuring Extreme Works pitches will be built for the tournament. There will be an area for participants to relax away from the action, secure changing rooms and even a 30-stall collector’s fair expecting to bring together 300 Subbuteo fanatics to buy official tournament merchandise and buy and sell classic Subbuteo items.

Individual events will take place on the Saturday followed by team events on Sunday, while a Subbuteo tournament could see the return of the curved-base game for the first time since FISTF split with the official brand in the 1990s.

Meanwhile, matches will be live streamed in what will be the most tech-savvy tournament in history. The document says: “We will stream four tables continuously throughout the World Cup, capturing all the excitement of key games in the individual tournament as well as the tension of the team event. We will also provide roaming coverage of other matches at the event itself, including player interviews, match analysis and real time tournament updates throughout the weekend.”

Volunteers from 16 English clubs will help to host the event while guests will be able to stay in local hotels including a former Subbuteo factory that is now a luxury hotel in the area.

The ambitious event has already secured the support of the local council to ensure local hotels are prepared for the tournament as the English Subbuteo Association leave no stone unturned in delivering a top level event.

The tournament has also secured support from some major Subbuteo figures in the UK including the head of the ESA, Justin Finch, Wobbly Hobby Shop owner Alan Lee vlogger Stewart Grant (aka Subbuteo Collector), who are taking leadership positions in organising the event. Meanwhile, Peter Upton of the ubiquitous website, has lent his support to the tournament.

He says: “Last summer I wore a Subbuteo t-shirt to my Covid vaccination. One of the marshalls asked be if it was an ‘Italian game’ because she had seen it being played in bars ‘everywhere’ when she was visiting the country. There is no reason why we cannot generate the same passion for the game here as has been seen in the number of new clubs springing up all over the country. In addition a board game culture has sprung up in the last decade, with gaming cafes in major towns.

“War-game manufacturer Games Workshop is a huge UK success story. People want to socialise while gaming. Our game is perfect for this.

“Let’s bring Subbuteo home. Let’s bring the World Cup to Tunbridge Wells. Let’s continue this revival. I can’t think of anything more appropriate.”

The Subbuteo World Cup – or Table Football World Cup to give it it’s proper name – is the biggest table football event in the world. After Covid delays the next tournament takes place in Rome this year before returning to the UK for the 2024 tournament.

Interest in the tournament has grown in recent months with appearances on many major UK media channels including Talksport radio. A UK tournament would be a huge coup for the game here and, according to the document, could help to ‘reactivate’ over three million dormant players.

Stephen Hurrell
Stephen Hurrell
Stephen is the founder and editor of The Hobby Online and The Hobby by Subbuteo.Online print magazine. He is a giant nerd and specialises in Subbuteo, retro football kits and consumer stories. A journalist and editor of 15 years, he has written about football for some of the UK's biggest publications.

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