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FOOTBALL fans are crying foul over the decision not to show England’s World Cup 2018 games on the big screen in Centenary Square.

It has been 12 years since England matches were last shown there, when 3,000 fans flocked to the area for each of the nation’s first two group games in 2006.

But, due to increased popularity screenings for the rest of the tournament were moved to Odsal stadium, and international football has been absent from the city centre ever since.

A City Park screening of Bradford City's FA Cup quarter-final replay against Reading in 2015 was a success, raising hopes that football's showpiece competition could once again grace the city's biggest stage.

But a Bradford Council spokesperson confirmed the matches will not be shown on the Bradford big screen, explaining that to run such an event would require cordoning and other event management such as stewarding, which it has not budgeted for this year.

They added: “Instead, for people who want to soak up the atmosphere with other fans, we encourage you to support some of the many local venues in the city and district that will be showing the matches.

“We hope all the fans in the Bradford district enjoy the excitement and drama as the tournament unfolds. So, come on England!”

Neighbouring Leeds, by contrast, will be showing England's games in Millennium Square as it did for the last World Cup and Euro 2016.

The council there has created a family friendly viewing area with fans prohibited from bringing or purchasing alcohol.

Many on social media believe this is the route Bradford Council should have taken for this year’s World Cup,

James Taylor, 36, of Heaton, said: “The big screen is good, and it would be nice to see the games on it as I have enjoyed watching other sports shown on the screen.”

He added: “It would have been nice to see a supporters' zone with independent retailers allowed to apply to showcase in the zone during the games.”

Ian Taylor, secretary of Bingley Bantams, said: “It’s a crying shame, it’s a really good chance to show England games and it’s a massive missed opportunity.”

He added: “I can understand some of it, don’t get me wrong. But I’m not sure how massive policing would need to be and it’s not as if they haven’t known about it for four years.”

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act in 2006 showed that three World Cup events in Centenary Square that year cost £19,759 in total, with two events at Odsal costing £41,414 after a venue switch was made due to increased numbers.

Atoni Preston, 55, of Holme Wood, said: “The big screen in Bradford was a waste of money. When they put it in they claimed they would be showing live football matches amongst other things. Now they are saying they cannot afford the policing of it for that sort of thing so what was the point of it?”

Cllr Jeanette Sunderland (Lib Dem, Idle & Thackley) said: “Yet again, it’s disappointing from the council. It’s a big event that people want to get together to celebrate – it gives people a sense of national pride.”

She added: “There’s city wardens, the police force, and the public who behave themselves – it shouldn’t be a problem. I just feel they’re making too much of health and safety. I’ve been to other events there and they do not put barriers in the way.

“There’s always a risk, life is full of risks, it’s about making a judgement – my judgement would be to do it.”

Cllr Richard Dunbar (Labour, Thornton & Allerton) said a lot of places in the area will still be showing the World Cup and this gives people the opportunity to support local businesses and he believes that should be the focus.

He said: “People are excited about it, we’re even hoping to defy the odds and win it. So, get into venues in the city centre and local venues around the district.”

One such business is the Sunbridge Sports Bar. Manager Sean Kirkley said: “While it benefits our sports bar with people more likely to come here, it’s a shame the council can’t assist Bradford for the World Cup in any way.”