World Cup excitement was building on Thursday as calls grew for a huge celebration in the capital if the Lionesses win the final — after ministers gave plans for a bank holiday the red card.
Following the match there were calls for a bank holiday, backed by Labour and the Liberal Democrats. But the Government said there were “no plans” for a national day off to celebrate if England secures a historic victory.
MPs today said the team should get a winners parade in London.
Lib Dem MP Munira Wilson said: “The Lionesses have shown the very best of England this tournament and they’re so close to bringing it home. If they manage it we need to celebrate in style, we are calling for London to have a victory parade should the team make it all the way and win the final.
“The Lionesses have already made so much history for women’s football and they should be commended highly, but winning the World Cup would be the icing on the cake.”
The Education Secretary swerved questions on whether there should be an extra bank holiday today. Gillian Keegan told Sky News: “That is not my decision, obviously. The more important thing would be to get lots of girls playing football as a result of this so that we have future Lionesses always on tap.”
City Hall on Thursday revealed that a mass screening of the final would take place in Victoria Park.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London and our entire nation has been enthralled by the performances of our amazing Lionesses and this screening will bring thousands of fans together to roar on the team in their biggest game yet.”
Last year thousands of fans joined England women’s football team in Trafalgar Square to celebrate their Euro final victory over Germany at Wembley. City Hall said any World Cup celebration plans, including an open top bus tour through the streets, would be led by the Football Association. A ceremony is expected to take place in the capital if the Lionesses are victorious.
The Government confirmed Sport Secretary Lucy Frazer was on her way to Australia today to make it in time for the final in Sydney. However, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Prince William, who is president of the FA, will not be making the trip.
The match is expected to provide a £184 million boost to the UK economy as fans flock to pubs, hold parties and splash cash on football shirts. It is expected that 11.1 million fans will tune in from home, with a further 2.6 million heading out to bars and restaurants to soak up the atmosphere, a report by VoucherCodes.co.uk revealed today.
Food and drink make up the biggest proportion of the total retail spend at £102.9 million. But fans are also expected to spend £16.5 million on sportwear. Online sales of England women’s football club merchandise surged by 710 per cent above the average daily levels after their semi-final win, according to Adobe’s Digital Economy Index.
Former England captain Faye White praised the Lionesses for being “calm and composed” during their World Cup semi-final yesterday.
She told BBC Radio 4: “We have had so many different challenges and styles of play to (come up) against in this tournament already and then dealing with the hosts... Look at how calm and composed the team were during that performance, even when Sam Kerr did strike that fantastic strike in the back of their net they still knew they could go again.”
Ella Toone’s former PE teacher said it was “not a surprise” that the midfielder had reached her first World Cup final. Chris Nuttall, who taught Toone at Fred Longworth High School in Tyldesley, Wigan, said he saw the midfielder’s potential young.
He said it was a “surreal” experience watching Toone score the opening goal yesterday, but felt her success was expected after demonstrating a strong sporting ability at school. Mr Nuttall added: “You could tell she was going to go onto great things.”