Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Third Report


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 Kingdom—sports governing bodies, local authorities, the sports councils and the Government—and 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.[504] 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 events well".[505] 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".[506] 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 time".[507] 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.[508] 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.[509]

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.[510] 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.[511] 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 body.[512] Minority sports such as surfing are concerned at their apparent exclusion from public support.[513] 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.[514] 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.[515] 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 events.[516] 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 public support.[517]

177. Local authorities remain the effective mainstay of the sports events industry in the United Kingdom.[518] 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 benefit.[519] 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.[520]

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".[521] 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 approach".[522] UK Sport's annual budget for world class events is £1.6 million.[523] 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.[524] 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.[525]

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 Championships.[526] 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.[527] 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.[528] 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.[529] 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".[530] The Government and Agencies Committee met on 28 October 1999 and was due to meet on 20 February 2001.[531] We were told that the Committee had agreed its terms of reference at its first meeting and "discussed a wide range of key issues".[532] The Government appeared to consider that the provision of information beyond such generalities would be incompatible with the "confidentiality" of the Committee's work.[533]

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.[534] 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.[535] After we reiterated our recommendation in our Report on Wembley National Stadium, we received an even less encouraging reply from the Department.[536]

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.[537] Nevertheless, the impact of his "clout" in bringing together the work of different Departments was acknowledged by the Minister for Sport.[538] 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".[539] The Secretary of State argued that a direct Ministerial role might be justified "towards the concluding stages of preparing for an event".[540] Yet Mr McCartney himself noted the value of direct Ministerial involvement from the beginning of a bid process to the delivery of an event.[541]

183. The Commonwealth Games Federation noted that in most countries the underwriting authority for an event is either the national or state Government.[542] That is the case in Australia, a country which has an exceptional record in attracting events.[543] The Federation proposed that the United Kingdom Government should be the underwriter of last resort of certain events.[544] 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.[545] Otherwise, he argued that Ministers would be left with political responsibility without direct budgetary control.[546]

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 importance.

504  HC (1998-99) 124-I, passimBack

505  Q 327. Back

506  Evidence, p 223. Back

507  Q 347. Back

508  Q 335; HC (1998-99) 124-I, para 122; Evidence, p 252. Back

509  Evidence, p 252. Back

510  Evidence, pp 252, 253-254. Back

511  Evidence, p 266. Back

512  Evidence, pp 285-286, 252. Back

513  Evidence, pp 255-256. Back

514  Q 168. Back

515  HC (1998-99) 124-I, paras 84-88; Evidence, p 233. Back

516  Q 334. Back

517  Evidence, pp 199, 279, 233; Q 349. Back

518  HC (1998-99) 124-I, para 66; Evidence, p 229. Back

519  Evidence, pp 227-230, 271. Back

520  Evidence, p 280. Back

521  HC (1998-99) 124-I, para 89. Back

522  Evidence, p 154; Q 548. Back

523  Q 332. Back

524  Evidence, pp 156, 198; Q 334. Back

525  Evidence, p 229; QQ 166, 546. Back

526  Evidence, pp 154-155; Q 332. Back

527  Evidence, p 159. Back

528  Evidence, p 198. Back

529  HC (1998-99) 124-II, p 168. Back

530  HC (1998-99) 124-I, para 106. Back

531  Evidence, pp 198, 201. Back

532  Evidence, p 201. Back

533  IbidBack

534  HC (1998-99) 124-I, paras 102-106, 118-124. Back

535  Cm 4575, para 29. Back

536  HC (1999-2000) 164, para 145; Cm 4686, para 20. Back

537  Q 419. Back

538  Q 458. Back

539  Q 540. Back

540  Q 543. Back

541  Q 419. Back

542  Evidence, p 223. Back

543  HC (1998-99) 124-I, paras 113, 115; Evidence, p 229. Back

544  Evidence, p 223. Back

545  Q 211. See also Evidence, p 235. Back

546  Q 240. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 3 April 2001