The leader of Birmingham's Capital of Culture campaign yesterday said he was "disappointed" about the cracks which seem to be appearing around winning city Liverpool's bid.
Dr Brian Woods-Scawen, chairman of West Midlands Culture, said apparent difficulties around the issues of funding, and engaging 'real' people in the festival, would have been avoided had Birmingham scooped the plaudit.
Event organiser, the Liverpool Culture Company, has been dragged through the headlines this week after a leading politician quit the festival board in disgust, condemning its "token efforts" to involve the community, and too much focus on 'wine and canapes' for VIPs.
It has also emerged that Liverpool's political leaders are asking Chancellor Gordon Brown for a £20 million loan, which would see householders meeting the debt with a one per cent council tax rise for the next five years.
Small businesses have also been called upon to pay £100 each to pay for flags and banners.
Liverpool City Council's Labour group leader, Councillor Joe Anderson, claimed the Culture Board and the Culture Company were failing to engage communities and 'real' people, failing to provide a 2008 events programme that excited people and failing to take advantage of the occasion to kickstart creative industries.
Dr Woods-Scawen said it appeared that some of the staple factors which eventually swung the vote in Liverpool's favour, seemed to be crumbling.
"One of the reasons Liverpool was awarded Capital of Culture was that the panel said they had engaged the whole population more than other cities, and I don't think that was the case because people in Liverpool are saying they don't feel fully engaged.
"It is certainly the case that everyone in Birmingham would have been strongly behind the bid.
"So one of the reasons for giving the award has turned out not to be the case."
He added: "Our bid was going to cost £500 million and we had £350 million secured, and we were very certain of where it would come from. There was no funding difficulty and it would be a broader offering, supporting our diverse population and a great advertisement to the whole of the UK as the word, as we face the run-up to the 2012 Olympics."
Much of the £350 million pledged for culture development has already been spent, he said. The cultural economy of the West Midlands now makes up 12 per cent of the total economy of the region and employing 250,000 people, and making it the fastest-growing cultural economy in England.
Ideally, he said, winning the Capital of Culture bid could help change the image of a city in the eyes of the country and the world, and support a growing cultural economy.
Liverpool's festival woes were nothing to gloat over. "It is a great disappointment, but not surprising that they are experiencing financial difficulties in backing the bid," he said.
"It was a great opportunity to show cultural life to the rest of the world, and Birmingham would have done that very strongly."