Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 327 - 339)



  Chairman: Sir Rodney, it is a great pleasure to see you again. Thank you very much indeed for coming to see us. Mr Fearn will start the questioning.

Mr Fearn

  327. You state that UK Sport has been involved with over 35 events since mid-1999. What difference do you think you have made to our success in securing and staging events?
  (Mr Callicott) What we have tried to demonstrate is that we have primary responsibility for all but the "big four", and the big four are seen as the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games, World Athletics and the World Football. We have responsibility for those and, in the list we appended in our submission to you, you will see that even in this year alone we are staging some three or four world championships like, for example, World Modern Pentathlon where we have considerable success from the Olympic Games. The success level, therefore, has meant that the fact that our athletes are doing well in international competition has also encouraged people to recognise that Britain does enjoy a very high reputation internationally for running events well. From my own experience, when I was in Birmingham we staged some eleven World and ten European championships in that city alone. You will see from our appendices that we are supporting events from all over the United Kingdom, all parts of the United Kingdom, and events going in as a result of good relationships with our governing bodies of sport and good relationships with host cities.

  328. So you feel pretty pleased with yourselves?
  (Mr Callicott) Never pleased with ourselves! We are delighted for sport, delighted for the host cities, delighted that the events have worked and delighted that the United Kingdom has been able to attract so many sports events.

  329. You have already said that United Kingdom Sport cannot underwrite the 2005 World Athletics Championships and the Government states that it is giving no funding guarantee at all. Who do you think should step in there now?
  (Mr Callicott) It is not an event for which we have any responsibility as such. When we were established those four events were not going to be possible for us to fund in any event; they are beyond our capacity to underwrite. In normal events, of course, it is the host city that takes on underwriting and that seems to be the case everywhere except London. In London there is clearly a problem and that is a matter for the GLA, for government and United Kingdom Athletics to resolve in due course, it seems to me, and whoever is going to take responsibility for that it is a matter for them to sit round the table and decide. Somebody will have to sign.

  330. It looks very much at the moment as though nobody is going to do that?
  (Mr Callicott) If we have not agreed that by October when the IAAF Committee come across for its first inspection visit then we have deep problems.

  331. Other than the Olympic Games, do you detect any need for another 80,000 seater in London itself?
  (Mr Callicott) So far we have not been made privy to the detailed specifications or content of the British Olympic Association report. I think it would be quite improper for me to comment on what is proposed since I do not know what is in that document at this stage.

Derek Wyatt

  332. You said elliptically that when you were created you could not have anything to do with the big four. What, then, is the point of you being Chief Executive of UK Sport? Forgive my ignorance but either you have executive authority or you do not. There is no point in having part authority.
  (Mr Callicott) We were given authority for all but four events and unfortunately for us we were not given the funding resources available that would be needed in order to take on the responsibility for something as large as the four events that have been specified. On the budgets that we have been given, therefore, it is not possible for us to take any greater involvement. Not having the Budget means that we cannot take on any greater responsibility. That does not mean to say that we feel we should be taking on more responsibility in terms of the big four events since we regard and are regarded as the United Kingdom's agency for major events but if we have not got the budgets then we have not been given the money to make that happen.
  (Sir Rodney Walker) When the responsibility for both the World Class Performance Programme and world class events was passed to UK Sport a couple of years ago, the money that came across from the Lottery to enable us to assist in the bidding for and the staging of world class events was £1.6 million per annum. With the £1.6 million, we have to assist governing bodies who are contemplating bidding to stage major events here and indeed from the same £1.6 million we have to provide whatever assistance we are able to, to assist people with the staging of major events. Clearly, the four major events are simply outwith our ability.

  333. You will understand that there may be a management shortfall in major projects. If we look at the Dome and Wembley, one is a government run thing; one is a private thing. Both have been disappointing. To be fair to the Dome, at least it was built and opened on the day. If there is not to be a dog's breakfast, if you were to collate intelligence, one body in Britain has to have it and that is you. Why does not the BOA give you its 400 page report, for instance? It is impossible for me to understand all this.
  (Sir Rodney Walker) The Chief Executive of the BOA has advised me that they want to share their report with us at an early date.

  334. If we are going to have collective wisdom, which is what we want, we have Manchester as the largest sporting occasion that we will ever host next year, and if we are to put that collective goodwill together and all that learning and knowledge which you are involved in, you ought to be the lead partner in this, not the also ran partner.
  (Sir Rodney Walker) You will recall, I am sure, that three years ago I was asked by Manchester City Council to become involved in helping resolve what was a complicated situation with regard to the sporting structure of Manchester. I paid some attention also to the business plan. I have subsequently left that organisation and now play no part in what I hope and am sure will be a very successful event. To give you a specific reply to what our role is and how we see our involvement in all major events, Mr Scott will amplify.
  (Mr Scott) I think you made a good point about the importance of a central clearing house, if you like, so that there is an opportunity to learn and to improve good practice. That is something that we are doing and we are continually aiming to improve. A good example of where we have been able to apply the knowledge that we have acquired to date to the benefit even of those events that we may not be funding in the long term—if you look, for example, at the World Athletics Championships it was UK Sport that supported the bid. It was our model that we had developed on the back of our association with the World Cup football bid in terms of business plan development and, most importantly, the budget that we need to put together to get a true understanding of what these events are going to cost in reflection of the sort of contractual requirements enabled the English Sports Council to look at that work in advance and give an in principle support to the staging of the event. There are tools that we are developing that do go across all sports. One of our prime ambitions is that we get more joined up thinking across the sports as well. One of the things that we despair of is the constant repetition of much of this learning within the individual sports, which is why we are now investing very much up front in terms of the initial thinking behind going for an event, what they want to get out of it and how they intend to capitalise on that event, rather than simply coming and saying, "We will grant aid the staging of it."

  335. Given the devolution complexities politically now impacting on what you are trying to do, do you not think the Minister for Sport should be where Sir Rodney Walker is sitting and that, in order to bang heads and get joined up thinking, you need the senior politician to be Chairman of UK Sport?
  (Mr Callicott) There may well be some arguments in support of that proposition but let me point out to you that in the Ryder Cup bid this year, for example, we have attempted to get a British bid. There are three bids going forward, one from Scotland, one from Wales and one from England, despite our efforts to try and get the three countries to work together to put forward one bid. The various component bids still feel that, despite the fact that there are three bids going through from the same country ultimately, the benefits accruing through both the bidding process and the benefits accruing if they were successful in bringing in the bid will not work together on that basis. That we find extremely frustrating because that means that there are different parts of the United Kingdom that are not working as the United Kingdom.

  336. Therefore, a chairman who was political would say, "I am sorry, the Government is not going to buy into this. We are not putting regeneration money in. I am awfully sorry." We can say that; you cannot.
  (Mr Callicott) You could say that, Mr Wyatt; I could not possibly comment.

  337. The issue is serious. The Chairman has already said, "Look, we are across four or five different organisations. We want support." It is a big thing for our society. It changes people's lives. If you put sport facilities in at the grass roots, you can see the change in the community. We cannot have all these agencies; it does not make any sense.
  (Mr Callicott) If you were to go that route, you would need to ensure that whoever that person was enjoyed the authority to be able to overrule the devolved governments both within Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England. I do not know who that would be but you would need to ensure that there was that sort of authority if you were to go that route. The route that we are currently working on is, faced with devolution, it is an issue that is there. We do not comment on what it is. We just work on the basis that it is there. We, I believe, achieve a great deal of cooperation within our counterparts within the Sports Councils of the four home countries. Our job therefore is to try and work on the basis of cooperation, agreement, the selling of the right arguments and so on.
  (Sir Rodney Walker) Could I remind us that there is in existence a sports cabinet chaired by the Secretary of State. I think it has probably met three or four times now since its inception and I believe it is beginning to address some of the complex difficulties that you have identified.

  Derek Wyatt: We only seem to have had problems put forward. If sport is to have political clout, it seems to me the chief executive should be in the cabinet and should be chairman of your body.

Mr Maxton

  338. Can I follow up on the devolution point? Can I give my wholehearted support to the bid being made by Scotland for the Ryder Cup. It also has an enormous benefit in that it is fully supported by the Scottish Executive of the Scottish Parliament. I do not know about the Welsh bid, but the English bid is certainly not backed, as far as I am aware, by anybody in the British Parliament and Government. Is there not something which we ought to be doing about that?
  (Mr Callicott) I think you will find that the Northumberland bid is personally supported by the Prime Minister and the Wales bid is being supported by the Welsh Assembly. You will understand our predicament therefore.

  339. Gleneagles would be a magnificent site.
  (Mr Callicott) I am sure, and I am sure that each bid in its own way has its own merits. You will understand if we do not comment because we have had to withdraw from this particular issue because the bids were going forward regardless.

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