Examination of Witnesses (Questions 121
TUESDAY 16 JANUARY 2001
121. Good morning. Welcome to the evidence session
we are taking here this morning on Wales in the world. Basically,
we are after your opinions about how Wales can be promoted, in
this case through sporting events and so on. We are very grateful
for the use of the facilities here today. It is the first time
I have been here and I am finding it very impressive. I did have
trouble getting in but I think that was due to the fact that we
were given the wrong gate number! May I apologise to those people
here who may have come for the BBC evidence session that was to
have taken place later today. There is an important debate in
the House of Commons this afternoon about the Children's Commissioner
and the powers of the Children's Commissioner within Wales. Most
of us here, I think, would want to speak on that debate and therefore
we are having to curtail this morning's session. I do not know
who would like to lead, but perhaps you would introduce yourselves
and describe what both organisations do. Perhaps Mr Gethin might
(Mr Gethin) Thank you, Chairman. My name
is Dennis Gethin, I am the Secretary and Chief Executive Officer
of the Welsh Rugby Union. As you might know, the Welsh Rugby Union
administers some 230 clubs in Wales, with a lot of responsibility
for affiliated organisations (like, youth, schools, women's rugby
and the district unions) which themselves have over 120 independent
clubs. So the union is responsible, for rugby throughout the principality.
The latest figures that you havedespite what you see in
some of the English pressis that the number of people playing
rugby in Wales is growing. The latest count, from children right
through to the seniors (women and girls as well), is 75,000 people,
with an increase in under 19s of 6,000 in the last 12 months alone.
The Welsh Rugby Union is the owner of the Millennium Stadium.
Mr Griffiths can introduce himself; he wears more than one hat.
(Mr Griffiths) Thank you, Chairman. I am Glanmor Griffiths.
I am Chairman and Treasurer of the Welsh Rugby Union and also
Chairman of the Millennium Stadium Company, which, as Dennis has
said, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Welsh Rugby Union. The
Stadiumyou are here today, if you have not been here before,
welcomeis a wonderful stadium. I always said, throughout
the construction period and before, that we were building Cardiff
the finest stadium in the world and I think that has now been
demonstrated. I think everybody can see what we have. It is one
of the leading stadia in the world.
(Mr Callicott) Thank you, Chairman. My name is Richard
Callicott and I am Chief Executive of UK Sport, which is a government
supported and backed organisation. We are responsible on behalf
of the whole of the United Kingdom for four primary areas of control
and development. One is in the field of anti-doping and ethics:
we run all the testing programmes across the United Kingdom. The
second is that we represent the British Government in the Council
of Europe; therefore, our second development is international
relations in major events. The third area is that we are a lottery
distributor (as of some 15 months ago) for the distribution of
lottery funds for selected athletes put forward by the governing
bodies of sportof which there are some 26 Olympic sports
that we fundand through our Exchequer Grant we fund some
50 sports. Finally, we are the central services team of the new
United Kingdom Sports Institute.
(Mr Scott) Good morning. My name is John Scott. I
am the Director of International Relations at Major Events, one
of the key policy and development programme areas of UK Sport.
As such, we obviously work a lot with other countries, particularly
our partner bodies. There is a strong focus on Commonwealth at
the momentwell understood, I am sure, with the upcoming
Commonwealth Games in 2002and we also obviously operate
the major events programme which I think will probably come up
in today's questions.
Chairman: Thank you very much. Some of our questions
may not relate to both organisations, so both organisations do
not have to feel obliged to answer them. I think Mrs Williams
would like to ask a question.
122. Good morning, gentlemen. A number of organisations,
including the National Assembly for Wales, have suggested to us
that Wales does not enjoy a high profile overseas, and certainly
a much lower one than Scotland and Ireland, and that the overseas
perception of Wales is often distorted, stereotyped and, perhaps,
out of date. What role does sport have to play in raising the
profile of Wales abroad? How do you take this into account in
(Mr Callicott) Shall I try to answer that? Good morning.
Clearly Wales has a world reputation in specific activities, and
I will leave a particular one of those to my colleagues to my
right to deal with. We have certainly helped fund events in Wales
because one of the things that we can do through the lottery grant
is to give grant aid through the lottery element to certain sports
activities and,in particular, to sports events. We have no responsibility,
nor do we have any locus, for capital development, so we have
no resources for physical facilities, ours are all development
programmes. But certainly we were able to help with netball at
Ewick; we put a grant into the World Youth Championships; we are
putting some money into an event that is coming up
here shortly, the Commonwealth Top 12 Table Tennis Championships;
and of course we did put some funding into the World Rugby League
Championships, some of the matches of which were played here in
Wales. I suppose you would expect me to say that I think sport
is one of the best ways to profile a particular country, because
it is instant recognition through the powerful medium of television
and the media as a whole. Certainly we will work with the Welsh
Sports Council and the governing bodies of sport in Wales and
those constituent parts of British bodies in order to try and
raise the profile. I think the short answerand I will leave
John to develop this in a momentis: Work with us. We are
already working with a number, as I say, to try and attract more
events to Wales. The more events that you attract, I think, the
higher the profile. It will act as a contributory factor in helping
to raise the profile of Wales internationally.
(Mr Scott) I would not labour the point,
but, just to support Richard's comments, the strength of the United
Kingdom abroad, I think, is not used enough in terms of our sporting
heritage and the breadth of sports that we do play and an awareness
that there is a diversity in the country as a whole. One of the
areas on which we are working with the Government centrally, particularly
with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, is the promotion of
sport more effectively through our diplomatic missions. We actually
have at our fingertips a huge number of potential ambassadors
in our young people who are competing throughout the world on
a day-to-day basis. I think there is a way to harness that and
promote much more effectively in those countries what is going
on here in the United Kingdom through those very talented and
very worthy ambassadors. That is one of the areas we are certainly
looking to develop with the Foreign and Commonwealth Officer.
123. Can you point to a country that does that
(Mr Scott) Yes, I think if you look to France in particular
and the work that France doeswhich, interestingly, they
support with a very active development programme as well, where
they will put resources through their overseas development agency
on the back of, for example, a visiting football team. They will
go in with a coaching programme for grassroots development in
that country. This is a very standard procedure which France has
been pursuing for a number of years. Germany does likewise. It
is very interesting that in the run-up to the Sydney Olympics,
Australia put a very big programme in place in the Pacific region,
working with all the Pacific islands on a similar basis. Their
teams would tour, they would go in and do development programmes.
That obviously raised their profile and the awareness of the strength
of Australia in certain sports. I think that is something we need
to learn from.
124. Will you be selective in the sports that
you are discussing?
(Mr Callicott) From UK Sport's perspective there are
something like in excess of 400 different sporting federations
across the United Kingdom, and, no matter how big the pot, if
you divide that by 400 it means that nobody gets very much. We
have tended now to work on a prioritisation of sports. It so happens
that as far as Lottery grants are concerned, that prioritisation
is towards Olympic sports. That does not mean to say that we do
not fund, through our Exchequer Grant, non-Olympic sports, but
certainly we are just going through a post-Sydney review period,
where we are prioritising sports and we are requiring sports,
in agreement with their performance directors, to deliver against
agreed targets up front. So we are prioritising, as, indeed, is
the pattern in the rest of the world.
(Mr Gethin) From the rugby point of viewand
Glanmor will say more about the stadiumMrs Williams' question
about not having the profile of Scotland and Ireland I think no-one
can dispute. I think that was more than adequately covered when
Rhodri Morgan gave evidence before you some months ago on the
fact that Wales has always been tagged onto England for historical
reasons, and Scotland and Ireland, again for historical reasons,
are completely different. One could say that whatever profile
Wales does have abroad, one could argue that that is because of
rugby. It is certainly known in the rugby playing countries. They
know about Wales, where Wales is, etc, but, as we know, not every
country plays rugby. The International Rugby Board are extending
the rugby playing nations at the very moment. In 1997 China joined
the International Rugby Board and in 1999 India joined, so, hopefully,
if rugby does take off in those countries, Wales will get known.
But, as I say, it is known only in those rugby-playing countries
in the majority of cases, I would imagine. The most recent country
to join the International Rugby Boardso we will get known
thereis Malta, which joined the rugby-playing fraternity
(Mr Griffiths) Perhaps I can answer Mrs Williams.
I think that, as Welsh people, by our nature we do tend to undersell
ourselves and it is time we spoke up about some of our achievements.
I will just speak about the stadium. We did, the year before last,
open the finest stadium in the world. In October 1999 we did host
the Rugby World Cup, the biggest sporting event to close down
the Millenniumnot as big as the Olympics and the Football
World Cup, but still the biggest event of that year. We opened
the stadium on 2 June of the new Millennium with Songs of Praise,
the biggest concert ever held in the world in a closed arenabecause
this roof, when it is closed, will create the largest covered
dome in the worldand that was beamed throughout Europe.
And what an events programme we have got for this year to show
ourselves off to the world: not just the big Six-Nations matches
and other big rugby matches but we have got the FA Cup and six
other big matches under the Football Association of England and
the Football League. The Rugby World Cup final on 6 November 1999
had an estimated television audience in excess of two billion
people, throughout 157 countries in the world. That is a huge
exposure, probably the biggest in our history. But the FA Cup
is even bigger and 12 May will bring an estimated television audience
of three billion people, now spread across 200 countries throughout
the worldand a lot of those are in the big European countries
where soccer is so strong. But there are other events coming to
the stadium to promote ourselves. We have the World Speedway Grand
Prix in June; we have the International Board World Sevens Tournament
here in the stadium on the weekend of 9 June; and we have big
events to follow. I think our reputation sporting-wise throughout
the world and with the stadiumcertainly in terms of rugby
in the stadiumis very high. Two of the biggest sports in
the world are rugby and soccerI put them in that order;
other people put them in the reverse order. This is the home of
Welsh rugby, it is the home of Welsh soccer, and for the next
four years it is going to be the home of English soccer as well.
There is no stadium in the world which can boast that, the home
to three of the big governing bodies of sport in the world.
125. Following on that point, I am sure we have
all agreed that we should warmly congratulate you on your success
in securing the FA and Worthington Cup finals over the next three
years whilst Wembley is being redeveloped (if, indeed, it is going
to be redevelopedbut we will not go into that now anyway).
Could you possibly tell us about the process that you went through?
Was it very difficult to secure these games and how did you go
about selling, as it were, Cardiff, this wonderful stadium and
the country of Wales?
(Mr Griffiths) Four years ago I had to negotiate with
the old Wembley company to take our big rugby events to Wembley
when our stadium was closed. The famous Arms Park had a capacity
of 52,000, fine, but, with that demolished, the next biggest stadium
in Wales, probably, was Ninian Park, with a capacity of 13,000
or 14,000. So we had to go into England and to Wembley. It was
during my discussions with the officers within Wembley that I
became aware of their own development and I quickly spotted that
as our stadium became available, fully completed, theirs would
be demolished for their redevelopment (whilst it has not happened
yet). The seeds were sown then. People thought that, perhaps,
I was mad three and a half years ago to even think of bringing
the FA Cup out of England, but I knew that we had something that
they wanted: a fine stadium, a neutral stadium, and we were able
to meet all their criteria. They had something that we wanted:
some highly prestigious soccer events. But, as I have said, the
seeds were sown four years ago and we have cultivated that connection
that we had with them. They could see how successful our matches
were to Wembley. We played six big rugby matches in Wembley during
the closure of the Arms Park and we filled Wembley on each occasion.
And great sporting events they were. The Welsh fans enjoyed travelling
to Wembley for those six matches and I am sure the English soccer
fans will enjoy coming to Cardiff and to Wales in the same way.
126. How tough was the opposition at that time?
(Mr Griffiths) I do not know precisely who the opposition
were, but I would suspect it was Old Trafford, Twickenham, possibly
Murrayfield and Hampden Park, and some of the other big stadia
that they have in England, soccer stadia.
127. Villa Park?
(Mr Griffiths) Villa Park, the Arsenal ground. There
are so many big grounds in England, but, at the end of the day,
as I have said, we had a modern stadium; a capacity of 74,000;
125 hospitality boxes; bars; restaurants; shops; fast-food outlets;
good transport links; and a stadium that has got a family-friendly
atmosphere. The ability to close the roof obviously attracted
them as well, because, whilst I doubt very much whether they would
play many, if any, of their soccer matches in a closed arena,
the advantage of a roof for sporting events is that, even if it
is not closed for the event, it can be closed up until the event.
Normally, when you have got very muddy pitches in any ground,
it has been raining for days, and at least we can keep the rain
off the pitch until the match commences.
128. The British Council has said that Wales
has better recognition in rugby-playing countries. I think Mr
Gethin referred to this earlier on. Would you not agree that perhaps
this is an opportunity for Wales to be recognised in the soccer-playing
world as well?
(Mr Gethin) On that, I have no doubt whatsoever that
that will be the case, because, as Glanmor mentioned earlier,
the figure of three billion for the FA Cup, which I believe is
the biggest sporting cup event in the world in any sport, and
obviously we are working, and Glanmor can elaborate more on this,
with other agencies (like the Tourist Board and the Cardiff Chamber
of Commerce and the Welsh Development Agency, etc) to make sure
that Wales is promoted, because certainly the eyes of the world
will be on the stadium in Cardiff for that very prestigious event
and it is an opportunity, I believe, that must not be missed.
I will say that Glanmor, in particular, with Bob Evanswho
together were dealing with the negotiations with the Football
Association and the Football Leagueis probably too modest
to say that they were not easy negotiations, and at that time
we had very little help from outside agencies. I think that is
fair comment to make. We are still seeking more help from government
agenciesand Glanmor has the detailbecause to promote
them it is not easy.
129. What type of help more specifically?
(Mr Gethin) Certainly financial help, because, as
Glanmor says, there is policing of the event, the stewarding of
it, etc. You have to close down the neighbouring facilities to
have a clean stadium, a clean area. As I say, Glanmor will have
the details far better than I have, but certainly help is desperately
needed on that front.
130. You say that you are not getting any help
from the various authorities.
(Mr Gethin) It could be far more, and, as I said,
Mr Griffiths knows the details better than I do.
(Mr Griffiths) I would suggest that the help and promoting
and the attracting of events to Cardiff and to Wales has to be
given at the outset, in making the bid. It follows that that money
could be lost if everything is aborted and there is an unsuccessful
bid. I will give you an example: in 1996 I made the presentation
on behalf of the Welsh Rugby Union to the International Board
to attract the Rugby World Cup to Wales. We were up against a
very powerful bid from Australia, who had linked up with New Zealand
and Japan. They had a marketing agency, sponsored by the Australian
Government, who made available £0.25 million to promote that
bid. That money was lost because they were unsuccessful, but we
had no financial help whatsoever. Taxation and VAT comes into
it. I knew that sport in Australia, in New Zealand, in Japan and
in most countries throughout the world is not subjected to corporation
tax whereas our sport in the United Kingdomand the Rugby
World Cup is an exampleis subjected to corporation tax.
So, when you are bidding against other countries throughout the
world, you have to show that your gross receipts less the tax
produces more in revenue than their gross receipts where there
is no tax deducted.
131. But, again, coming back to the specifics,
which agencies would you say could have given you help or, indeed,
could give you help in the future?
(Mr Griffiths) I am not criticising the agencies because
it is something that never happened in the United Kingdom and
certainly not in 1996.
132. Which agencies have the potential to help?
(Mr Griffiths) I think in Wales it would have to be
through the Welsh Tourist Board and possibly the WDA.
133. Do you think that there should be, perhaps,
an organisation, a multi-agency organisation that looks into promoting
cultural, musical and sporting events across the whole of Wales?
If there were full-time officers for that, it may assist you in
getting these events.
(Mr Griffiths) Absolutely. Resources are needed and
the Welsh Rugby Union and the Stadium Company cannot do everything
on its own. It does need help to bring the big events into Cardiff
and to Wales.
134. It is a shame. You have a fine stadium
like this; it should be filled 365 days of the year with events
that are recognised internationally.
(Mr Griffiths) I do not think that is possible. Our
business plan of four years ago, when we persuaded Barclays Bank
and Laing and the Millennium Commission to invest heavily in the
stadium, was based on 16 big events in a year. We are exceeding
that number. In fact, between now and December, with the Football
Association matches coming here, we have 21 events in the stadium
for the remainder of this year that would either be capacity or
near capacity. It is estimated that 1.5 million spectators will
come through our turnstile between now and December. Obviously
a lot of those will come from outside Wales and hopefully from
throughout the world.
(Mr Gethin) To follow up, I think that such a professional
body would certainly be a step in the right direction. Having
worked in local government most of my working life, I am aware
of the constraints on local authorities. We have had help from
the local council but obviously we would like more, but I know
the financial difficulties that they labour under, as do the National
Assembly. But I certainly think that at the moment we need more
help. If it is done on a professional basis, professional outfit,
as Glanmor said, we would certainly welcome that.
(Mr Scott) Chairman, if I may add what our role is.
Particularly when you are talking about sporting events, UK Sport
does have a significant interest here. Obviously, we have our
own prioritiesand I think Richard has explained the focus
that we havebut we do have a major event strategy which
is United Kingdom wide, and it is not just the supporting of the
staging of the events, it is actually supporting the whole preparation
of the bid process as well. We do have funding available for that
and we would wish to work with people, particularly key organisations
that are making use of fantastic facilities like this, to promote
them further. It is getting the right event at the right time
and one of our key tasks is to ensure that that is linked to our
overall development plans for the sport, not least for performance.
Clearly, what we are wanting to see is that the investment we
are putting into the preparation of our high performance athletes
gives them an opportunity to perform at that peak on these shores,
because that does tend to, particularly in some of the smaller
sports, increase their profile, and that is one of the things
we would like to achieve. But I fully support the idea that there
needs to be better coordination, particularly with agencies like
the Tourist Board, like some of the development agencies. We have
been working on that. One of the proposals that we did put to
Governmentand it has actually been establishedis
what is called the Government and Agencies Committee, which was
meant to bring together all these bodies to do exactly what you
have been discussing here. I think that group could do more and
the fact that now the British Tourist Authority, for example,
has published a new sporting strategy, where it says it wishes
to see more events brought to this country and it will put resources
behind that, I think is a step in the right direction.
135. When you say "this country" do
you mean Wales?
(Mr Scott) I mean the United Kingdom and all parts
of it. Our interest is to see, as you have said, the maximum number
of events brought to this country. Clearly, what we would like
to see is those spread around the country because we know, from
the work we have done on, for example, economic impact studies,
that the impact felt locally can be very significant. A small
event like the European Junior Swimming Championships which was
hosted in Sheffield over a weekend, had an economic impact on
the city of just over £300,000. That is very good for the
city. We know that having the ability to attract a range of events
across the country is one of the key policy priorities we have.
(Mr Griffiths) I would like to add, if I may, Chairman,
that, like Dennis, I also worked in local government before taking
up this post. I was the head of sport and I used to run the National
Indoor Arena in Birmingham. During my tenure we staged something
like 11 world championships and some nine European championships
and certainly an event as innocuous as a European table tennis
Championship put £1 million into the local economy. We are
now monitoring these economic impacts, not just specifically to
the city but to the region. You will be aware of the Ryder Cup
(Mr Griffiths) I was involved in the Belfry bid that
is going to be staged this year. Certainly, if Wales is selected
as the preferred venue for its championship, which is in 2009,
then, clearly, the economic impact, from Kiawh Island, as some
of you may know, is considerableand it is not just on the
immediate locality it is also in the region of the part of the
country in which the course is held.
137. On that, I attended a function last week
in Londonseveral of us didthe London launch of the
Ryder Cup bid. It was interesting to me because the Welsh Tourist
Board played a central role in that, both financially and otherwise.
I frankly am astonished that they have not been more supportive
of the WRU and the Millennium Stadium, given the wider economic
benefits that flow from, for example, the events that you have
secured here. I sincerely hope that they will look again at the
way they operate.
(Mr Griffiths) I think that some sort of forum should
be established to promote the stadium and other venues throughout
Wales for sport and for cultural activities, a forum representing
members from the Tourist Board, from the WDA, from (as far as
Cardiff is concerned) the City Council, from the Assembly, from
the Sports Council, and it should be a permanent forum. We did
establish one during the Rugby World Cup, just to oversee the
operational aspects, but it does need a permanent forum to attract
events. We would be on it as well and we would play our part as
the Stadium Company and as the Welsh Rugby Union to attract rugby
events into Cardiff, but it is much wider than rugby and it is
much wider than the stadium. We are talking about the Ryder Cup
going to Celtic Manor, and these are the big events that we need
to bring into Cardiff and Wales.
(Mr Callicott) May I just make one final point on
that, picking up Glanmor's point. The Ryder Cup is an interesting
example, where, in an ideal world, we would try to facilitate
one bid. As it so happens there are now going to be three bids
going in from the United Kingdom, and each bid is going to be
spending a great deal of money on trying to attract the bid to
its particular location within the United Kingdom. You could argue
that you could make a case for saying, "Wouldn't it have
been better if we had somehow done a deal internally?so
that there was only one bid going forward and that meant that
two bids would not have been wasting their money." Because
two of them will not be successful. Unfortunately, the nature
of our country is that Wales wants it, Scotland wants it and the
North-East of England wants itand I am not commenting on
which is the best bid at all, I am not involved in that process.
Mr Llwyd: The Welsh bid is the only serious
one, is it not? (Laughter)
138. I have been coming to this site since 1948,
believe it or not. I have been here every year since 1948 to watch
rugby. The first time I was here there was a Welsh triumph; the
back line was Haydn Tanner, Billy Cleaver, Jack Matthews, Bleddyn
Williams, Ken Jonesand I cannot remember who was on the
other wing! I have seen it develop and I must congratulate you
on where you are now. It is a huge asset. I saw Wales beat New
Zealand in 1953 and I am looking forward to the next time. I hope
it is soon. Jenny Randerson, the Sport and Culture Minister, in
relation to hosting major sporting events in Wales has said that
this is something that shall "have economic spin-offs for
the whole of Wales". How are you working together with other
organisations to maximise the economic benefits for Wales which
might be realised from hosting these high-profile events. You
have partly answered that question, I think, with your proposals
for a forum, but have you been able to quantify, for example,
how much money came into Wales at the World Cup? Do you have budgeting
forecasts, and, indeed, how can we make the rest of Wales benefit
(Mr Gethin) I think, Mr Livsey, a report that was
issued after the Rugby World Cup said that the Welsh economy benefited
to the tune of £80 million during the Rugby World Cup campaign.
Those are figures which were produced on a professional basis.
I cannot recall the organisation that did produce them but certainly
that was the figure that had credibility, as it werewhich
is a hefty sum. As Rhodri Morgan said, after it was announced
that the FA Cup was coming to Cardiff, the economic benefits will
be beyond calculation, but I do not think anyone with hand on
heart can say what sort of figure that is going to be. All we
do know for certain at the moment is that when there is a big
rugby Six-Nations match, like when England are down here a fortnight
on Saturday, that generates for Cardiff alone some £15 million
economically. There are two Six-Nations or three Summer Seasons
and also there are other big rugby events. Presumably the FA Cup
etc, will generate that figure, if not more, so we are talking
about big sums of money.
139. I felt that there was an economic opportunity
lost during the World Cup when it was decided to hold some of
the rugby matches over the whole of the United Kingdom, when probably
there is more support for rugby in Wales and it would have attracted
larger crowds. Could you tell us something of the background of
those negotiations, and, if you were to do it again, how you would
go about it.
(Mr Griffiths) Wales hosted the Rugby World Cup in
1999 but we were supported in staging the tournament by France,
England, Scotland and Ireland. We are a very small country and
with 41 matches being played over one month there is a limit to
the amount of people that you can get into the stadium and we
did not need more than the Millennium Stadium to host the big,
big matches. Clearly, there were five big stadia involved: the
Stade de France, Murrayfield, Landsdowne Road, Twickenham and
our own Millennium Stadium. I think that if the tournament comes
to the northern hemisphere againand it will do, possibly,
in eight or 12 years timeI think more than one country
will need to share that tournamentperhaps not all five,
but certainly more than one. The next big event we have in our
sights is obviously a European soccer final, possibly in three
to four years time. UEFA, the governing body in Europe, has given
us the stadium five-star rating. We are only one of a handful
of stadia throughout Europe to have that qualification. You cannot
quantify the benefits to the City of Cardiff and to Wales from
bringing, perhaps, 40,000/50,000 overseas fans into Cardiff for
that type of event, but the benefits obviously will be hugenot
just for the stadium but for everybody.