Examination of Witnesses (Questions 120
THURSDAY 1 MARCH 2001
MOORCROFT OBE, MR
120. Do you understand Wembley being slightly
perplexed in their evidence to us. They lost to the 2005 athletics
very largely on the Secretary of State's view that the sight lines
in particular were not suitable for 80,000 people in an athletics
stadium but you are only going to have 43,000 in there anyway.
They could easily have had 43,000 who would have perfect sight
lines in Wembley.
(Mr Moorcroft) And 40,000 empty spaces that would
not have looked very impressive. There are a number of issues
in relation to Wembley that I think Wembley answered very, very
well. One of the pleasures in the last few months has been the
process in the last two months that Sir Rodney has led in terms
of revisiting Wembley and deciding whether Lee Valley was the
right option. I believe that Sir Rodney led that process very
well and came to the right conclusion for the right reasons. A
lot has happened in the last two or three years that probably
none of us would wish necessarily to go through again, but hopefully
a lot of lessons have been learned. I think the way things are
moving at the moment, both in terms of Wembley and Lee Valley,
are the right solutions bearing in mind everything that has happened.
121. The sight lines at Picketts Lock, and in
particular the focal points which those sight lines are worked
out on, will be as good as Wembley would have been?
(Mr Moorcroft) The advantage of starting again is
that the sight lines can be perfect. They will range from C60
to C90, which is the technical jargon to say good, and they will
be very, very good.
122. I seem to remember Kate Hoey saying that
she wanted the focal point to be on the outside lane of the track.
(Mr Moorcroft) One of the challenges in athletics
is that the further away the spectators are, the easier it is
to get perfect sight lines. To create the right atmosphere, rather
like football, you want to try to get the spectators as close
to the outside lane as possible. The advantage of starting again
is that the design team can work on that basis without any constraints
or compromise to any of the sports, hence the reason that they
have come up with a solution that will provide 43,000 great seats
for the World Athletics Championships.
123. I am a big fan of athletics but I was a
bit concerned about your answers defending the location of Picketts
Lock. You said there is a good core of promising athletes who
live near there. If we have got a limited amount of money, does
that not argue that we should be spending that money around the
country rather than on one stadium? It is clear to everybody that
the Olympics could never take place at Picketts Lock. Would it
not be better to ensure that we put the money into other stadia,
like Gateshead, for instance, rather than concentrating on one
area in London?
(Mr Moorcroft) The key thing in terms of athletics
provision is a quality indoor facilities. One of the great things
at the moment is not only is the Lee Valley project hopefully
going ahead but there are a number of other significant developments
in England that are taking place through the high performance
infrastructure. There will be 200-metre tracks in Sheffield and
Manchester, significant indoor facilities in Birmingham, Bath
and Loughborough. They will be really quality facilities for the
rest of the country aligned to current tracks. That is happening
as well as the Lee Valley project. If we want a major championships
to come to Britain, whether in London, Manchester or Birmingham,
clearly there is going to be a massive capital cost to bring in
that event to the country. That is part of the decision about
whether or not we want that event. What we are trying to provide
is an event that is value for money. Whether it was London, Birmingham
or Manchester, rather like the Commonwealth Games, a lot of money
goes into the infrastructure and a lot of minds work in terms
of how you can represent best value to make sure that there is
good value beyond those Games, and that is what is happening here.
I think we have got the balance right. Thanks to Sport England
both in terms of the high performance facility programme but also
in terms of the community athletics programme, we are getting
124. What major events will be taken away from
(Mr Moorcroft) Very few because the London Grand Prix
that is currently at Crystal Palace will transfer to the Lee Valley
Stadium, the National Championships is the issue, the trials,
and it would be logical for that to be in London once that facility
is built. We currently have four other televised events that take
place outside of London and the plan is to continue that, to work
with those local authorities more as a consortium of facility
providers in terms of spreading those other facilities around
the UK. By the year 2005 we would hope to have more rather than
less televised events and we are confident that the other stadium
providers will have ample opportunity to continue our policy of
trying to spread the athletics' messages around the country.
125. On a much broader scale, take the Olympics,
as billions of people watch it on television is it not ludicrous
to argue about whether we should have a stadium of 80,000 or 90,000
in comparison with billions watching it on TV? Would you not agree
with me that it would be better to put some money into Athens
and have the Olympics always in Athens instead of having to spend
vast amounts of money in individual countries at different times?
Why do we not look at sport on a global basis rather than just
having local interests coming into it?
(Mr Moorcroft) That would be an interesting question
to ask of the BOA, certainly Craig Reedie. If people were to look
for a permanent site for the Olympic Games probably a lot of people
would pick Sydney at the moment rather than Athens because of
126. They will after 2004.
(Mr Moorcroft) I think the investment that was made,
hundreds of millions of pounds, four or five years ago, in terms
of trying to support our athletes across all sports to try and
do their level best at the Olympics and bring back more medals,
was wholly appropriate and paid dividends. That was a leap of
faith. We had no certainty that that money was going to produce
medals and it did. As a priority that was spot-on. Equally, as
we saw in Australia, not only is there a great benefit in terms
of competitors winning medals but to do it on home soil adds an
extra ingredient, and we have not had that since the 1948 Olympic
Games. We have got that opportunity now and it gives us that best
balance between the money that is neededand the primary
thing is money into competitors to become successfuland
aligned with that to use major events as a catalyst and assistance
to them to be successful on the world scene and to help inspire
a new generation. It is getting that balance right. Now is the
time to do that with the World Athletics Championships and obviously
now is the time to think seriously about whether we want to do
that with the Olympics. It starts from the premise that the primary
thing is to make sure that our competitors can compete on the
world stage because it would be totally inappropriate to have
the World Athletics Championships but not have competitors that
would do well at it. I think we have got the balance right.
127. Does that not prove that there is really
muddled thinking over Wembley because the main argument over the
new Wembley Stadium was that the sight lines were no good; the
stadium had to be a certain size to get the Olympic Games. That
was the main argument and Picketts Lock was the alternative to
that, but now Picketts Lock is not the alternative to that, it
is completely different.
(Mr Moorcroft) There were a lot of lessons learnt
through the Wembley experience. The most difficult element was
the relationship between field sports and athletics, the difficult
relationship in terms of design and in terms of usage between
the needs of athletics, which I accept is an unusual and difficult
sport, and those of football. On the basis that it is primarily
a football stadium with some Rugby League, it was always going
to be difficult. Athletics' preference would have been something
along the lines of the Stade de France which we think could have
worked quite well. That is a preference going back four or five
years, but that was not to be. We did our best and I think the
relationship with Wembley has always been really good in terms
of working out whether or not it could have worked and the decision
was that it is not appropriate to be at Wembley and it is far
more appropriate and will work far better being on the 138-acre
site at Lee Valley.
128. The last World Championships were in Seville
(Mr Moorcroft) Yes.
129. My memory of watching it on television
was that there were not very large numbers of people going to
see it. Was that true? Was it a financial success?
(Mr Moorcroft) Every evening session to my recollection
was full. The morning sessions were sparse, as they often are.
Ironically in the Olympic Games in Sydney, which I recognise is
different, every morning and evening session had 115,000 people.
What we have said is we think 43,000 is more appropriate because
3,000 are taken through media and others so effectively it is
40,000, and we think it is better to aspire to filling 40,000
regularly during the Championships than to aspire to filling 80,000
and failing. We think that is far more appropriate.
130. Who has the television rights of the World
(Mr Moorcroft) The IAAF through ISL own most of the
commercial and broadcast rights and currently those rights sit
with the EBU and through the EBU the BBC. It is the BBC dealing
with ISL through EBU rather than us but it will be on terrestrial
131. How much does the World Championships make,
whoever runs it?
(Mr Moorcroft) Nothing. There are very few commercial
rights that the host nation owns.
132. So your income is almost entirely dependent
upon seats being sold at the stadium on the occasion?
(Mr Moorcroft) Yes, and the business plan for the
World Athletics Championships that has been presented to Sport
England (which is constantly updated) reflects that. Value in
kind is a big category that offsets a lot of cost. One of the
issues to do with the ISL contract at the moment is both from
2003 and 2005 being very careful that that contract reflects our
understanding of the original contract in Paris and reflects what
we want in this country.
133. In 2005 can you guarantee that the Games
will be on terrestrial television or can the IAAF still sell them
on to some other non-terrestrial broadcasters?
(Mr Moorcroft) It is guaranteed through the EBU contract
and the fact that the BBC are primary signatories to that. It
will be on terrestrial television and the BBC are involved in
discussions for 2003 and 2005 and also involved in design issues
to do with the stadium.
134. Can I suggest to you that what you said
about the Olympics of course is true. The Australians must have
been very impressed by the number of Australians winning medals,
but do you not think that has got more to do with the money they
have spent on their facilities at a grass roots level and their
quality sportsmen as well rather than on having the Olympics itself
and they would have had these successes even if the Olympics had
been in Athens. The fact is that 50 per cent or 60 per cent of
Australians take part in organised sport in any one week; what
is it here?
(Mr Moorcroft) 50 per cent of Australians have taken
part in sport for many many years. In 1976 they had their worst
ever Olympic Games. They were still a sports-mad nation but they
had their worst ever Olympic Games. They did not win one medal
in track and field and we beat them by one, we won one, but across
the board they had a very poor Olympic Games, probably worse than
we had in Atlanta. They set up a national programme to get a balance
between community, grass roots, what we would now call emerging
talent, and the support of elite talent, and the provision of
facilities, and it has worked spectacularly well. I think one
of the advantages they have in Australia is that the distribution
of wealth within sport is more equitable and there is not one
sport in Australia that stands above others in terms of extent
of wealth. Obviously in Britain we have football that is very
much in that position. I think they have a greater desire within
the media to see a number of sports to be successful, whereas
probably in this country the primary focus is on one or two sports.
They collectively got their act together through Sport England,
UK Sport and the other bodies responsible for that and I think
we are getting our act together in this country. I think that
was shown in Sydney. I think the challenge now is to show that
as governing bodies we are focused both on governing the sport
but particularly on moving sport forward and we work with the
various agencies to make sure that we are successful as a nation,
have loads of people participating and have events that bring
us great pride.
135. Mr Bates this morning criticised Kate Hoey
and said that she was perhaps the cause of the delays in what
was happening at Wembley Stadium. He has a very quiet voice and
whenever he comes here we have a great deal of difficulty in hearing
what he says. I have no knowledge of how he speaks outside. It
seems to me that Kate Hoey has a very loud voice and speaks very
clearly. Do you think that what we do not need is people with
loud voices making decisions that perhaps are not the right ones
and what we should have is people speaking far more clearly about
what is happening, about the long-term future, and collectively?
Do you understand what I am saying?
(Mr Moorcroft) I do. I think the support we have had
from both the Secretary of State and the Minister has been excellent
and we appreciate that. We recognise that athletics is a sport
that does not have a massive amount of money to put directly into
these programmes. Equally, with the support for our high level
performance it requires Lottery funding so, therefore, requires
agencies like Sport England and UK Sport to back us. We have had
to produce a very convincing argument and I think we have had
that support. I think this process and the reason we are here,
and in a sense the reason we all trying to deflect blame elsewhere,
actually reflects pretty badly on the way in which we rate sport
in this country. The structure could be better. I think a primary
part of whatever the structure is for the future is defining the
relationship between Government, the statutory bodies and governing
bodies. I think lessons learned from this are as much about how
we go forward as about how we deal with the current issues.
136. From the evidence this morning it seems
to me there is a lack of a clear vision, a long-term strategy
for sport in this country. All of these things are happening and
nobody seems to be drawing these things together, they are all
in isolation competing for different pockets of money, often the
same pockets of money. It seems to me to be a mad way to continue
to go on. What do you think we should do in the long-term to avoid
all the confusion that seems to be caused by all of these developments
taking place at the same time?
(Mr Moorcroft) I think one of the useful things to
do sooner rather than later would be to get into a room, but not
in this situation, with the key agencies. Many of us have not
spoken to each other that often. We should say "What lessons
are learned? Could we do this better?" We should start off
by saying "What do we want to achieve?" and then "What
do we need to do to achieve it? What roles and responsibilities,
therefore, should each part have?" There is something uniquely
complicated in Britain, both in terms of the structures we inherit,
and athletics reflects that as much as anything, but also in terms
of political issues like devolution. Whatever happens we inherit
a fairly complicated structure but we also inherit very complicated
processes. I think we have a tendency to be bogged down in the
process rather than the outcome. I think the vision is there but
often the process means we move away from focusing on what we
are trying to deliver.
Chairman: Mr Moorcroft, thank you very
much indeed, we are most grateful to your colleagues and yourself.