Examination of Witnesses (Questions 140
TUESDAY 16 JANUARY 2001
140. This question is for Mr Callicott and Mr
Scottat least, initially. Can you describe UK Sport's clearing
house system which ensures that only one home country bids for
any major sporting event normally?
(Mr Callicott) This is partly linked up, I think,
with another area of your concern. Clearly, since devolution,
there has been a splitting off of the number of what were formerly
Great Britain's governing bodies of sport. That has, in some cases,
meant that the creation of Welsh, English, Northern Irish and
Scottish governing bodies means that we are in the process of
trying to work out with the governing bodies a new federal process.
We are going to be involved in some pilot schemes on that, starting
from later this year, with some Exchequer funding that the Government
has made available to us. That is going to go on for the next
three years. Part of the difficulty is that, in most cases, the
actual bidding process for any major event has to go through the
governing body, because it is the governing body, the international
federation, that actually owns the rights to that event. So, whether
it is a European federation or an international federation, in
most casesand there may be certain exceptions in the strictly
commercial sense of sport, in terms of venues, as Glanmor has
been describing, but in most international federationsthere
is a bidding process that goes through the clearing house known
as the governing body of the sport, and it is the governing body
of sport that normally enters into a partnership with a local
authority or a venue or some other sort of basis. What we would
like to do is to persuade the constituent federations, including
the Welsh governing body, to be part of that process, to determine
which is the best location for the interests of that sport and
its development. I have just given an example of the Ryder Cup,
where we have not been able to effect a bringing together, because
the prizes, if you like, are so great that there are independent
bids now determining that they are going to go ahead anyway. With
certain sports we have been able to work with them. Athletics,
for example, we have been able to work with them and they have
selected the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham for the World
2003 Championships. But there are certain guidelines and there
are certain sizes of audience that are required, certain pre-requisites
laid down in the international regulations that will determine
to a large degree which events can go where. Because, if the regulations
require, let us say, a 75,000-seater covered stadium, that only
puts a certain number of venues eligible even to be considered
in the first place. So, from our point of view, we are trying
to work with the governing bodies to try and work that together.
The one thing that we cannot do is to tell any federation what
it will do; that is, they are autonomous bodies, in that they
must make their own decisions as to where they put their events.
What we would try to advise them on is our policy of pre-event
activity, to try to build up to the event; holding and staging
the event itself; and then: what is the legacy of the event? Is
there a case of just putting on an event because it is a nice
event and then it goes away again? We are trying to put it into
some sort of context of the development of that sport and its
(Mr Scott) There is one point I would add and I think
it is very important when we start to look outside. I mean, too
often I think we tend to take a very inward look at these issues
and one of the dangers we run is that of becoming so focused on
issues between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that
we forget that out there in the big wide world these days the
competition for securing major events is increasing. More and
more countries are capable of hosting major events and more and
more countries see the benefits of hosting those events. I think,
as you have heard from the Welsh RFU, the scale of support put
behind many of these bids means that we have to be very clear
that we have got the best possible bid that can actually secure
the event. If we do have more than one bid going forward from
the United Kingdom (that is, for example, from England and Wales)
it runs the risk of diluting the support that we have in the corridors
of power of international support. There is not always the same
degree of understanding of the complexities of our sporting system
here and quite frequently the world at large sees different parts
of the United Kingdom as the same. This is one of the risks we
do run if we do not have a properly coordinated approach to our
bidding. It also links back to the fact that at the moment the
United Kingdom generallyand Wales would be part of this
in terms of its membership of sports in its own rightis
under-represented. I think, in terms of the influence that we
exert on the international decision making of sport, we punch
below our weight. We need to do more to get more influence because
it is the corridors of power internationally where these decisions
are being taken.
141. Mr Scott, with respect, I do not agree
with your analysis there, because, frankly, the whole essence
of this inquiry is about underselling Wales abroad. If you say
it has to be coordinated United Kingdom wide, that normally means
that Wales goes to the back of the queue. That is really what
it is about, is it not?
(Mr Scott) With respect, I disagree. I think it is
about putting the right event in the right place that enables
the event to come to the country in the first place. As I say,
with the degree of competition that there is out there in the
world at large, we will not succeed if we do not have the best
bid with the right politics behind it. I think the lessons we
have learned from the Football Association bid was clearly that,
even though technically we had a very strong bidsome would
say that the quality of the England bid for the World Cup technically
was the bestwe did not have the politics behind it to secure
(Mr Callicott) Could I try to put a slightly different
perspective on that. I think what we are hinting at is to suggest
that Wales will determine for itself with its various agencies
those facilities that it will deem necessary to support its nation.
It will build those facilities according to what it can afford
to build and it will build them according to the specifications
that it deems appropriate. You have now one of the finest stadia
in the world; you will attract major events to this venues because
you have that facility and because of the great management skill
of the team that run this facility. I think one of the things
that Wales will have to determine is which facilities it is going
to build for itself. If it is going to try and take on the 220-odd
nations of the world who are all building different facilities
around, then you enter into that spectrum. It seems to me that
there needs to be a concentration, and, as I understand it, the
Welsh Sports Council has already determined that there are going
to be some priority venues located here in Wales. Certainly the
building of the indoor athletics training centre at Ewick, this
facility here, the potential 50-metre pool at Swansea and the
indoor cricket school are all an indication that someone in Wales
is trying to work up a strategy for building those sorts of events
that would be worthy of attracting major international events.
That is a decision for the Welsh agencies, it seems to me.
142. Is that in the clearance process that you
are trying to get everybody to accept? Are the criteria the quality
of facilities or is there an attempt to make sure that, say, a
small country like Wales gets a fair crack of the whip?
(Mr Callicott) What we are saying is that we at UK
Sport cannot tell the sport what it will do. If there were four
bids going forward, all we can try to do is facilitate it. In
most cases at the Olympic sports, it is slightly easier, because
there is a Great Britain team that goes to represent the whole
of this country in the Olympic games. Therefore, with Olympic
sports it is a little easier to try to pull together the equivalent
of a Great Britain board. And the Great Britain board then has
to determine whatever its voting procedure as to which has the
best bid forward. In some cases it may be Scotland, in some cases
Northern Ireland. For example, the World Cross-Country Championships
went to Belfast only last year. The World Boxing Championships
are going to Belfast this year. Scotland has just been staging
some very big events also. So Wales is in with as good a chance
of staging those events as any other constituent part of the United
Kingdom and it would receive our support if it was the decision
of the relevant governing body to bid for it. In some cases Wales
will be able to bid in its own right because it may be that it
is affiliated directly to the international organisation of sport,
be it European or world.
143. You are a funding organisation. Would you
use sanctions to encourage particular governing bodies to play
along with your clearance system?
(Mr Callicott) At the moment, no, we have not considered
that as an option. We have not discussed that as any option at
the moment. And, to be honest, I do not think we would welcome
that. It has to be something that the international federation
... One of the other issues, for example, that may be taken into
consideration is: If the facility exists to stage an eventand
certainly Cardiff Castle has staged some great cross-country events
in the recent past, and I am sure it could do againthere
is nothing stopping the Welsh AAAs for Cardiff and the Welsh Sports
Council and us putting in a future bid at some point in the future
for that type of event. It does not require the building of a
major new facility for the staging of a major international sporting
event. Bala up in North Wales has been the venue for white water
canoeing. The water comes down there beautifully, it fits ideally
what white water canoeing is about. So it is a question, it seems
to me, of choosing certain events appropriate to the population
density and the demographics of the interest of sport, and also
the location of the venues that would be needed and the ancillary
facilities in order to support that particular event.
144. May I just ask you if you can clarify the
different roles between UK Sport and the Sports Council of Wales.
(Mr Callicott) Certainly. I gave a brief right at
the beginning, Mr Edwards on the four major responsibilities we
have. We have no locus for the building or planning or the strategic
development of any facilities. We are taking a United Kingdom
perspective, and that means trying to work with the four home
countries, in this case, particularly, with the Sports Council
for Wales. The chairman of the Welsh Sports Council, Gareth Davies,
sits on my board and he is supported by the chief executive. He
also sits on the Central Services Board for the United Kingdom
Sports Institute and we have a range of different people that
are involved in that process. The Welsh Sports Council will look
at Wales. Our job is to look at the whole of the United Kingdom.
You would be right if you were thinking that that has potential
for a slightly different perspective on life. "Yes, it does,"
is the short answer, because we tend to look at things from a
United Kingdom perspective and try to look after Great Britain's
interest and involvement in international sport; and Wales, Scotland,
Northern Ireland and England tend to look at it from their own
perspective. What we hope we do is that we bridge any differences
that there might be. So, for example, a Welsh athleteand
I use that word generically, not specific to the sportwho
shows some real talent could well be on a world-class performance
programme funded by UK Sport and there could well be a Welsh national
athlete who is funded by Sport Wales.
145. Do you think we as politicians/parliamentarians,
be it at the Assembly or in Westminster, can be doing more to
promote sport in our countries, in Wales?
(Mr Callicott) The short answer to that is: "Absolutely.
Yes, please"and I would be delighted to brief you
on the sorts of issues. But, essentially, I happen to believeand
the Government is laying out its various strategies on the way
it will handle sport, which is something that we welcomethat
we have had far too many years where sport has not been seen to
be playing its part in the education process and the education
system. I think there have been far too many years where there
has been a lack of appreciation that sport brings benefits, if
you like, which will benefit this country in the long term by
having a much fitter, much more active lifestyle with youngsters
the sooner that they get into an activity (whatever it may be).
So ill health and the funding of the Health Service willI
think there is considerable evidence now coming outbenefit
if we invest in that. It will also reduce crime. It is also a
worthy activity in its own right for fun and enjoyment. It is
a question of trying to make sure that those youngsters and general
society as a whole who choose to participate, who happen to have
a particular talent, can do so, and it is our job then to help
to develop that to its natural conclusion. So anything that Members
of Parliament can do to try to put pressure on governments to
recognise that local authorities are going through particularly
bad times in funding leisure and sport. New departments are being
created, sport is being squeezed, there is not enough money to
continue to keep all of the things going, and more money is needed.
So for all the sports clubs, the voluntary sector clubs that need
it, yes, there is lots of evidence to support that. That is not
a criticism of government, because government is doing a very
good job in trying to develop it, but we would welcome Members
of Parliament across the whole of the United Kingdom, and especially
those of you here, to help us in that cause.
(Mr Scott) May I add one point, which I think has
already been raised, which you could look atand we have
made a plea regularly to governmentthe taxation issue.
I think this is something where you could seriously take a look.
The international comparison which has already been drawn out
is very real. It is actually one of the disadvantages we face
now in trying to secure events, for examplethis is just
one more exampleand, more importantly, the benefits that
flow to volunteer organisations like national government bodies
because of the taxation system here do disadvantage them. I think
that is something you could look at very seriously.
146. Could I finally offer the support of those
of us who are parliamentarians who are still active in sport.
You may know that we had a Parliamentary World Cup tournament
the week before the Rugby World Cup here, which was supported
by six countries, including South Africa and Japan, which really
did help to establish political links as well as sporting links.
We play football. I am in the football team and the rugby team.
We played football at Wembley. We would be delighted to come and
play at the Millennium Stadium here. We played rugby at Twickenham.
I just offer the parliamentary sporting teams' help in a great
(Mr Gethin) Are you available on 3 February!
Mr Edwards: Indeed.
Chairman: I do not think you would have shootingthe
only thing I doin your Millennium Stadium. I think we have
run the course of our questions. If there is anything that occurs
to you that might further our inquiry, please feel free to drop
us a line about it. Thank you very much for coming today. It has
been very useful.