IX. THE ROLE OF MINISTERS AND OF THE SPORTS
173. In our inquiry in 1999 we examined the different
roles played by the four key players in bidding for and staging
events in the United Kingdomsports governing bodies, local
authorities, the sports councils and the Governmentand
the relationships between them. We commended the role played by
governing bodies and local authorities, but argued for a more
systematic approach by the Sports Councils towards the funding
of events and the assessment of the benefits of those events and
for a more committed leadership role from the Government.
During the present inquiry we returned to those issues to see
what progress has been made.
174. Mr Callicott of UK Sport assured us that "Britain
does enjoy a very high reputation internationally for running
There is evidence that that reputation has been secured and maintained
despite rather than because of the organisation of sport in the
United Kingdom. As the Commonwealth Games Federation observed,
"to the outsider (and probably also to the insider) the organisation
of British sport is complex and confusing".
Sir Rodney Walker, in his capacity as Chairman of UK Sport, said
that "nobody in their right mind would create a system of
sports governance such that we have in this country at the present
The most salient aspect of this system is the division of the
governance of many sports by the home nations, a division in some
ways reinforced by the process of devolution.
Now is not the time to revisit the many consequences both positive
and negative of these traditional divisions, but it must be recognised
that international organisations expect clarity and simplicity
and, in many cases, view the United Kingdom as a single entity.
175. Staging sporting events poses particular problems
for minority sports. Smaller sports find it difficult to attract
sponsorship, particularly as sponsor support is often dependent
upon television coverage. British Gymnastics thought that the
sport's development and capacity to attract international events
was being undermined by neglect by broadcasters.
Glasgow City Council regretted that there had been no broadcasting
of the European Badminton Championships held in that city in April
2000, a failing to which events held away from traditional venues
were felt to be particularly vulnerable.
The role of host broadcaster for smaller events can bring little
commercial benefit to the broadcaster, but subsidy of broadcasting
production costs is often beyond the resources of a governing
Minority sports such as surfing are concerned at their apparent
exclusion from public support.
Mr Casey, the Chief Executive of Sport England, acknowledged that
a previous application for funding for an event from the sport
of angling might not have been correctly handled.
We recommend that UK Sport and Sport England commission an
independent study of the benefits that might accrue from more
systematic support for events in minority sports or sports not
so far covered by them, including support for broadcasting costs.
176. Since we last considered the skills needed successfully
to stage a sporting event, concerns have continued to be expressed
about the lack of resources and skills within some sports federations
to stage an event.
Mr John Scott, Director of International Relations and Major Events
at UK Sport, told us that "we despair of" the constant
repetition of sports learning about what is required to stage
Despite this concern about the constant re-inventing of the wheel
and the recognition that bad bids or poorly run events are damaging,
there remains a limited capacity to prevent bids that do not require
177. Local authorities remain the effective mainstay
of the sports events industry in the United Kingdom.
Without their commitment to invest in and underwrite bids, it
seems likely that precious few events would be staged here. Submissions
from committed local authorities such as Gateshead Council and
Cardiff Council evinced concern that their role was taken for
granted. The Lord Mayor of Cardiff highlighted the range of local
services that were provided without direct financial support or
Sheffield City Council indicated that the pressure from governing
bodies on local authorities to provide financial support was actually
increasing as a result of Lottery funding, because partnership
funding had to be identified for a Lottery bid to succeed.
178. UK Sport was established in 1997 as the "lead
agency on behalf of Government for bidding for and staging major
events in the United Kingdom".
In 1999, UK Sport became a distributor of Lottery funds for elite
sport and major events, a development that the Secretary of State
thought had enabled UK Sport to take a "much more proactive
UK Sport's annual budget for world class events is £1.6 million.
UK Sport has endeavoured to become the central point of advice
and expertise on staging events and has established a Major Events
Steering Group with the aim of ensuring a more strategic approach
to the bidding and staging processes.
There was support in evidence for the advisory and filtering roles
of the Steering Group and the Minister for Sport thought that
UK Sport had "got a grip"of these roles.
179. There is a fundamental weakness in the role
undertaken for UK Sport, in that it is supposed to be the lead
agency for major events, but its budget is not adequate to enable
it to play a financial role in the largest events such as the
Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games and the 2005 World Athletics
In both those cases funding responsibility lies with Sport England.
The problems posed by that division are particularly acute in
the case of the 2005 World Athletics Championships. UK Sport was
responsible for promoting and supporting the bid in the knowledge
that decisions on funding for both the running costs for the event
and the Stadium would fall to Sport England.
A situation has thus arisen in which UK Sport has power to support
a bid for the 2005 World Athletics Championships without financial
responsibility for the event itself, while Sport England is left
with financial responsibility for the event without power in relation
to the bid.
180. The Government states that a co-ordinating role
within Government in relation to major events is played by the
Government and Agencies Committee.
We were first informed about this body in April 1999, when the
Government said that the fact that the Committee would be chaired
by the Minister for Sport demonstrated the Government's commitment
to a strategic approach.
We were sceptical about the body, considering the fact that the
Committee had not yet met to be "symptomatic of a policy
in need of a kick start".
The Government and Agencies Committee met on 28 October 1999 and
was due to meet on 20 February 2001.
We were told that the Committee had agreed its terms of reference
at its first meeting and "discussed a wide range of key issues".
The Government appeared to consider that the provision of information
beyond such generalities would be incompatible with the "confidentiality"
of the Committee's work.
181. In our initial Report on Staging International
Sporting Events in May 1999, we argued that the fundamental
importance of Government leadership to the success of events,
and the demands of co-ordination between the different Government
Departments and agencies involved with events, justified the designation
of a Minister in the Cabinet Office as Minister for Events.
Beyond reference to the special responsibilities given to Mr McCartney
in respect of the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games, the response
from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport was non-committal
on the proposal.
After we reiterated our recommendation in our Report on Wembley
National Stadium, we received an even less encouraging reply
from the Department.
182. Mr McCartney said that he was appointed to deal
only with one Event and did not see his role expanded into that
of a Minister for Events.
Nevertheless, the impact of his "clout" in bringing
together the work of different Departments was acknowledged by
the Minister for Sport.
The Secretary of State viewed Mr McCartney's role as "enormously
beneficial" and referred to the possible benefits of "a
ministerial cross-departmental champion" for the 2005 World
Athletics Championships "in due course".
The Secretary of State argued that a direct Ministerial role might
be justified "towards the concluding stages of preparing
for an event".
Yet Mr McCartney himself noted the value of direct Ministerial
involvement from the beginning of a bid process to the delivery
of an event.
183. The Commonwealth Games Federation noted that
in most countries the underwriting authority for an event is either
the national or state Government.
That is the case in Australia, a country which has an exceptional
record in attracting events.
The Federation proposed that the United Kingdom Government should
be the underwriter of last resort of certain events.
Mr Banks argued that an effective Ministerial role in events would
only be possible if there were Exchequer funding within the control
of a Minister.
Otherwise, he argued that Ministers would be left with political
responsibility without direct budgetary control.
184. The piecemeal approach towards the management
of events and of public sector support for them is no longer acceptable.
Even though we admire the work accomplished by Mr McCartney, we
do not consider it sensible to appoint a separate Minister for
each event deemed to be of sufficient importance, with each new
Minister seeking to acquire the skills and knowledge for the role
from scratch. We repeat for the third time our recommendation
that a serving Minister in the Cabinet Office be designated as
Minister for Events.
185. In this Report, we wish to go further. Our
examination of events has exposed many problems of overlapping
responsibilities in the governance of sport and of too many issues
that fall into the gaps between bodies. In the wider context,
there is a need for a full consideration of the future role of
the Minister for Sport.
186. In the specific context of events, there
is an overwhelming need for institutional reform and simplification.
We recommend that the Major Events Steering Group of UK Sport
and the Government and Agencies Committee within Government be
abolished and that they both be replaced by a single decision-making
body within Government chaired by the Minister for Events and
with a membership including the Ministers responsible for sport
in the United Kingdom Government and in the devolved administrations.
We further recommend that this body have the final decision-making
power on all bids and all events where the commitment of State
resources is an essential prerequisite for the event. Finally,
we recommend that the Minister for Events have direct control
over the necessary financial resources to support events of national
504 HC (1998-99) 124-I, passim. Back
p 223. Back
335; HC (1998-99) 124-I, para 122; Evidence, p 252. Back
p 252. Back
pp 252, 253-254. Back
p 266. Back
pp 285-286, 252. Back
pp 255-256. Back
(1998-99) 124-I, paras 84-88; Evidence, p 233. Back
pp 199, 279, 233; Q 349. Back
(1998-99) 124-I, para 66; Evidence, p 229. Back
pp 227-230, 271. Back
p 280. Back
(1998-99) 124-I, para 89. Back
p 154; Q 548. Back
pp 156, 198; Q 334. Back
p 229; QQ 166, 546. Back
pp 154-155; Q 332. Back
p 159. Back
p 198. Back
(1998-99) 124-II, p 168. Back
(1998-99) 124-I, para 106. Back
pp 198, 201. Back
p 201. Back
533 Ibid. Back
(1998-99) 124-I, paras 102-106, 118-124. Back
4575, para 29. Back
(1999-2000) 164, para 145; Cm 4686, para 20. Back
p 223. Back
(1998-99) 124-I, paras 113, 115; Evidence, p 229. Back
p 223. Back
211. See also Evidence, p 235. Back