Examination of Witnesses (Questions 20
TUESDAY 16 OCTOBER 2001
20. Good morning. I understand you met the IAAF
in Edmonton during the World Championships.
(Mr Kerslake) Sheffield did not officially
meet the IAAF. We sent one representative from Sheffield International
Venues to Edmonton but we did not send a delegation to Edmonton.
21. Who was that person?
(Mr Brailey) Wayne Coyle, who is head
of our major sports events team in Sheffield.
22. What was the purpose of his going?
(Mr Kerslake) His sole purpose in going
was really that, following the announcement of the Carter review
and the early visit by the Carter team, we felt there was sufficient
potential, if you like, to make it worthwhile sending someone
to Edmonton to be basically clear whether or not there were issues
for Sheffield in holding the games. So we sent someone out to
find out for themselves what actually happened and they produced
their own report on the requirements in order to host the championships.
So it was for our benefit to know what was involved in holding
23. So you formally met or informally met the
(Mr Kerslake) I do not think he met the
IAAF. I would be very surprised if he did because he went simply
as someone to find out what was happening. I do not expect he
did meet them actually.
(Mr Brailey) I can say categorically that he did not
meet the IAAF.
24. Just coming back to the £40 million.
We have had in the past the Secretary of State saying he categorically
can assure us that £65 million would be put aside for Picketts
Lock and then Sport England saying categorically that it has not
been put aside. You are now saying categorically that £40
million, it looks as though the officials are saying, is categorically
going to be made available. But is it the department that is going
to pay or is it Sport England?
(Mr Kerslake) My understanding is that
there are two parts to this. One is the capital costs, which would
be Lottery funded, the £20 million. The revenue costs would
be for the UK Government. It seems to me that the question of
whether that has been put aside is something that you need to
address to them.
25. The IAAF now has a championship every other
year. Some of us feel that demeans athletics, that there is too
much, because athletics is the centre of the Olympics as well
in the third year of the four-year cycle. Looking at the figures,
the year after the Olympics, spectators go down substantially
and world records fall. There are not so many world records the
year after. The year before the Olympics, many more of the athletics
see it is a stepping-stone to their preparation. We are in that
cycle where 2005 is the year after. Is there as much excitement
for those games amongst the athletes and the media as there is
for the one that is the year before?
(Mr Brailey) A difficult question to
answer with any certainty. If you look at the attendances for
the world championships over the last probably eight different
events there does not appear to have been a dip in spectator attendances
in the years following the Olympics.
26. I have got them here. Do you want me to tell
you that there has been? For instance, in 1995 there were 592,000;
in 1997 there were 361,000; in 1999 there were 497,000; and this
year there were 400,000. So the year after the Olympics, there
was a substantial drop. And, anyway, you do not know whether they
were fee paying or free tickets. Edmonton was empty for lots of
the days that I saw it.
(Mr Kerslake) I think the point about
the capacity of the stadium is relevant here. Part of the fact
that it looks so empty, of course, is it is a bigger capacity
stadium that we are talking about here. You may be right about
this. It is not something we have given consideration to. Even
if it is on a lower level of activity in the circumstances you
have described, it is still the third largest sporting event in
the world. It is still a major opportunity for a city like Sheffield.
So, even on the lower attendance, you are still talking about
400,000 attendees at Edmonton.
27. Just reviewing this, there was no bid for
this. It was a conversation between Nebiolo and UK Athletics one
day to say, "You deliver this; we will deliver that."
Now we have this mess. Would you like to see the UK Sports Council
actually define the bidding systems, so that there is fair and
equal opportunity for all cities to bid for these world events?
(Mr Kerslake) I think clearly a more
structured process would assist in this situation. Clearly you
rightly say that what has occurred here has not been a structured
process. It has been a series of decisions in the light of circumstances
that moved from Wembley to Picketts Lock; it did not involve a
wider canvass of the opportunities at the time. Clearly there
would be benefits in a more structured process, yes.
28. Mr Wyatt has raised some very valid concerns.
It is perfectly obvious, is it not, that at present, and maybe
for a number of years to come, there is an almost insatiable appetite
for people to go and watch football. It is the most popular sporting
event, probably the most popular cultural event, that takes place
in this country and throughout the world where soccer is played.
On the other hand, there is no evidence that there is a huge appetite
for people wanting to go to Spain to watch athletics. It is one
thing for people to turn on either their terrestrial TV or their
digital sports channel and sit and watch athletics events for
a bit, but, taking into account your own somewhat bruising experience
with the World Student Games and taking into account the commitments
you have been told about (the Government providing the revenue
costs), do you believe that there are enough people who are in
this country or who would come into this country to provide large
audiences to justify the staging of the games? One of the things
that has been said recently, I think by Mr Carter, is that basically
people watch all of these things on television but it does not
much matter where they take place, and the great thing for British
athletes and competitors is to win and get trophies, regardless
of what particular spot on the earth they achieve this.
(Mr Kerslake) Clearly the ability to
watch the championships on television is an important factor and
there has to be a realism about the scale of these events. I actually
think that goes to the point about why the aspiration is there
for capital cities. If your argument is correctand I think
there is a point about thatwhat is the essential need for
a capital city, given that it brings with it almost certainly
higher costs and major issues in terms of congestion? But, in
terms of our experience in Sheffield, we have had the largest
attendance at events in this country for athletics. We have had
three capacity events with 25,000 attendance. Although the financial
impact of the student games was considerable, the actual impact
on the city when the games were held was very positive. I was
not there at the time, but many people who were have commented
on it. So I think it is right to say that there must be a realism
about the scale of attendance of these events and the aspirations
behind them: one of the reasons why we have gone for a capacity
that we think is perfectly able to cope with the actual requirements
that there were at Edmonton. But even with that reduced involvement,
there is still a huge boost to cities such as Sheffield from such
events, that has a major impact, a regenerative impact, on the
city, and that should not be lost. So I think you can have the
best of both worlds: you can have good facilities for athletes
and regeneration of cities and you can have availability to see
those things on television and in other ways. I would question
the policy of the IAAF in saying: "It is capital cities or
nothing." That seems, in the light of what you have said,
an unwise way to go forward.
29. I just want to follow up that rather interesting
line of questioning and your remarks with regard to capital cities.
We know that when the considerations were being made for the selection
of a city for the Olympic Gamesand it does not always have
to be a capital city, in fact it has not been of latethey
tended to be what I would call "sexy locations". They
are locations which are not only good for the events but also
for the wives of competitors and so on and so forth to come along
and, indeed, for the committees who actually make the decision
as to where the location is going to be held. Do you think Sheffield
perhaps suffers from the fact that it does not have quite the
glamouror maybe you will argue that it doesof London.
Indeed, does the climate come into it? I do not think there is
a huge climatic difference between London and Sheffield, but there
might be a perception that there is.
(Mr Kerslake) I think this is more about
perception than reality. I was a chief executive in west London
for five years before going to Sheffield and I can tell you now
that the quality of life in Sheffield infinitely exceeds that
30. I am sure you are right in what you say,
but is perception not more important? Unless you can change the
perception of the IAAF are you not going to be always at a disadvantage.
(Mr Kerslake) I think it is about changing
the perception of the people in this country towards major cities,
because if there is not that level of confidence in what we can
achieve ourselves, how in hell can we persuade the IAAF of the
Chairman: You are quite right about the
climate actually, Michaeland I am coming from Leeds. The
fact is that the cold winds sweep across from Siberia, with no
high ground to stop them until the Pennines, which is why Manchester
has a much more benign climate!
31. Just to reverse the capital city, given September
11. It would be much easier for security in Sheffield, than in
any capital city to maintain security, because of its location
and scale. Is that not a plus?
(Mr Kerslake) I think that is true. One
of the thoughts I have considered is where as a chief executive
would I like to be responsible for organising such a championship.
In Sheffield or London? Sheffield would come ahead because we
have at our disposal, in the same way as you do in Manchester,
a much more coherent set of functions in one city. So I think
security and the whole range of administrative things that go
with organising championships like this are much easier to manage
in a place like Sheffield. That is my personal view, having done
both, if you like.
32. As one who shares your view about how Londoners
and perhaps the Government look at the capital city, is it your
view that Sheffield is the only option to have a successful bid,
to have it in place for 2005?
(Mr Kerslake) I think our judgment is
that that is correct. Manchester could clearly have been the location
were it not for the issues around making available the facilities,
which would have required negotiation with Manchester City Football
Club. If you leave that out of account, then we believe that Sheffield
is really the only viable location now for the UK to consider,
given the time scales and the other issues involved.
33. I agree with you about your issues about
how cities other than London are perceived. Cardiff, I think,
has been a revelation for many people who have had to go there
for football matches, to the Millennium Stadium, and suddenly
they have discovered a city which they did not realise was a great
city in which to live. The day after the announcement that Picketts
Lock was not going to happen and the IAAF seemed to make it pretty
clear that they were not very interested in Sheffield, how surprised
were you by their immediate reaction?
(Mr Kerslake) We knew that this was a
possibility from the IAAF. We had it very clearand I take
my hat off to those involved in the process. We were never at
any time misled about the potential issues, about the choices
and the potential that the IAAF would decide that they would not
accept the alternative and go out for a new process. So I think
we were always aware that that was a high possibility. I guess
what surprised me was the strength of some of the comments they
apparently madeand obviously there is a risk in commenting
on press comment, if you see what I meanat the time and
I would have hoped there would have been a slightly more open
approach to these issues in their deliberations.
34. What I am really asking is do you think this
is an entirely academic exercise, because the decision is effectively
already made and it is not going to be Sheffield? Or how would
you rate on a scale of one to ten your chances of actually having
the championship in the year 2005?
(Mr Kerslake) I have been asked that
question before and I have refused to speculate on it.
35. Go on!
(Mr Kerslake) No, no, it is not my decision.
What matters in a way is the extent to which there are ready alternatives
to Sheffield in capital cities and the willingness of other capital
cities to take on the responsibility. The Carter report highlights
the fact that the costs of hosting events have become more onerous
over time, the expectations have become higher, and there may
be other factors in the minds of cities when they make their decision.
For example, Berlin has been quoted as a potential host but, if
anybody knows anything about the finances of Berlin just at the
moment, they might think twice about taking on additional commitments.
So I think a lot depends upon whether there are other capital
cities that are willing to take on the burden that is involved
here. Clearly, if there are, I suspect there is a high chance
that the IAAF will go with that. But, rather than speculate, I
would rather wait until the IAAF have met in November and see
what the outcome of their discussion is.
36. I am not sure about the process now. Will
you be making a submission? Who makes the submissions? How will
your position be considered by them?
(Mr Kerslake) The way it works is that
there is not at this stage a bidding process. There is not an
invitation for proposals. That only happens when the IAAF meets
on 26 November and decides whether it wishes to go out again.
What happens at this stage is that the UK Government writes to
the IAAFor it may already have writtensaying basically,
"This is what we are now proposing," that is to say,
Sheffield as the location. It is then for the IAAF to decide whether
or not it goes out for a further round of bidding consultations.
37. Following on from what Chris has said, in
a very short period of time you have got an awful lot of concentrated
activity and at the end of it you have no way of knowing whether
you will be successful or not, so clearly there has been a substantial
amount of investment in time and resources. Can you just take
us through a little bit how you see that time being spent and
where your main focus is?
(Mr Kerslake) I think we feel we have
made the technical arguments about Sheffield. We have put forward
a quite detailed submission to the Carter review. That is available
to the IAAF. We have prepared information about the city to counter
some of the perceptions that have been talked about. But actually
I think our feeling is that there is not a huge amount of work
that Sheffield has to do at this stage. I think the issue is about
whether the key bodies in this country want to get behind the
Sheffield proposal. I think that is the key issue. I think our
task would be to talk to them and say, "We think Sheffield
is the best opportunity for this country to be the host. Will
you get behind us and support our proposals?"
38. So it is basically a PR exercise locally.
But in terms of the relations with the sports body, for example,
are you doing any work there or are you assuming that is being
done by government?
(Mr Kerslake) I think we would want to,
with government, talk to the sports bodies, get a better understanding
of the issues for them and also to understand how best to make
the arguments to the IAAF. It is obviously a more difficult process
when there is not a bidding régime at this stage. There
is nothing formally that we have to do at this stage.
39. For example, you do not envisage having any
direct contact with the IAAF?
(Mr Kerslake) I do not think that would
be appropriate unless they asked us. We would be very happy to
host them if they wanted to come and see Sheffield and what we
have to offer, but I think that must be in their court.
Chairman: Gentlemen, I would like to
thank you very much indeed. I am sure everybody hopes (a) that
you get it and (b) it will be successful. Thank you.