Memorandum submitted by UK Athletics
This evidence has been compiled following the
publication of the Carter Report and the decision by the Secretary
of State for Culture Media and Sport to withdraw the Government's
support for the Lee Valley National Athletics Centre at Picketts
Lock, and thereafter to inform the IAAF that London would not
be capable of staging the 2005 IAAF World Championships in Athletics.
THE IAAF WORLD
The development in the mid-Nineties of the concept
of an English National Stadium for three sports (football, athletics
and ruby league) was based on a desire to attract "world"
events to the UK once again. In the case of athletics, there was
a desire to bring the World Championships to the UKan aspiration
shared by UK Sport (who included it in their Major Events Strategy),
Sport England (who offered £15 million staging funding) and
Government (who led the bid to the IAAF).
The desire to stage major events was partly
based on the principle that a legacy should be left from the considerable
investment made. It was the absence of a legacy for athletics
in the original Wembley proposal for the World Championships in
Athletics that prompted the then Secretary of State, Chris Smith,
to withdraw athletics from Wembley and support the concept of
a National Athletics Centre. This concept combined a venue for
the World Championships with a significant legacy for the sport.
Following the decision to cancel the Picketts
Lock project, UK Athletics is left without a venue for the World
Championships and without a legacy for the sport.
In the extensive coverage about the cancellation
of the Picketts Lock project, a number of misconceptions were
repeated in the media coverage. Some of these arose from, what
we consider to be, inaccuracies in Patrick Carter's report (it
is understood that these will be addressed in the evidence of
Lee Valley Regional Park Authority) and others arose from the
characterisation of the project as a simple stadium development
rather than a national centre for the sport. We would therefore
wish to correct these misconceptions about the development.
The total project costs have been reported to
have risen from £60 million to anything up to a quarter of
a billion poundsthis issue will no doubt be addressed in
detail in the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority's evidence. However,
it should be noted that in early 2000 when the concept of a National
Athletics Centre was first discussed, and before a site had been
found, the ball-park figures cited were £92 million to £122
millionthere has never been a belief that it could be delivered
for £60 million. The all-party group, including DCMS, Sport
England, UK Sport, British Olympic Association and London 2005,
proceeded with the site selection and bid to the IAAF in this
The Lee Valley National Athletics Centre (LVNAC)
would not have been a "white elephant" nor would have
"lain empty apart from two days a year". A wide-ranging
event profile was agreed in principle for the Centre that would
have seen the main stadium in use almost every weekend throughout
the athletics season (May to September). These events would have
ranged from capacity Grand Prix and International events, to school
and disability events with large numbers of competitors using
both tracks and the throwing field.
Equally importantly, the Centre integrated the
High Performance Centre for London. This would have provided a
year-round training base with extensive indoor and outdoor facilities
for London-based elite athletes (approximately 40 per cent of
the Olympic and World Championship teams) and their successors.
Furthermore, the facilities would have been used by the club and
school sector throughout the regiona wide-ranging programme
for this had been developed resulting in the offer of an £8
million Capital Modernisation Fund grant.
In recognition of the year-round benefits to
the sport at all levels, a substantial package of revenue support
had been put in place from a range of partners: Lee Valley Regional
Park Authority, London Marathon Charitable Trust, London Borough
of Enfield and UK Athletics. It was always acknowledged that the
LVNAC, like so may sports facilities, would run at a deficit,
but the willingness of all partners to address the deficit with
revenue contributions would have been a huge investment in athletics
in London and the South East.
The final misconception we would wish to correct
is that Middlesex University were not able to provide an athletes'
village for the World Championships in 2005. Although the original
proposal of a complete village on one site at Tottenham Hale had
been revised, the University confirmed that the required number
of beds could be provided at a combination of their accommodation
sitesthis would have given a "local" option.
Furthermore, we had an offer from University of Hertfordshire
to provide a complete campus village at Hatfieldunder 30
minutes drive from Lee Valley. This had many attractions, particularly
from an athlete's amenity perspective, and was favoured by the
London 2005 team. However, UK Athletics acknowledges that there
were capital and infrastructure issues that remained unresolved
and that those uncertainties contributed to the Secretary of State's
UK Athletics co-operated in Patrick Carter's
review on the World Championships and Picketts Lock through attendance
at meetings with the Carter Team and the supply of further information
However, we were not supplied with a copy of
the report until 4 Octoberthe day that we were informed
that Picketts Lock was to be cancelled. Prior to this, no discussions
were held between DCMS, Sport England and UK Athletics to clarify
issues raised by the report, challenge its findings or address
the concerns raised. We were disappointed that such a fundamental
decision for our future was made without these discussions taking
Similarly, given that the report was steering
Government to approach IAAF with a new venue, we were disappointed
not to be involved in discussions with DCMS and Sport England
over our opinion on World Championships alternatives to Picketts
Lock. Although our preference for Picketts Lock would always have
been stressed, we could have brought our perspective to the discussions.
We had informed Patrick Carter and the DCMS
that the IAAF would be unlikely to accept another venue in the
UKindeed the IAAF had made this position clear publicly
since early August. We were surprised therefore to learn that
Sheffield was to be promoted as an alternativeirrespective
of its merits as a venue, this was never likely to be a successful
2005 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS?
Technically, London remains the venue for the
2005 World Championships until the next meeting of the IAAF Councilon
26 November. However, at that meeting, the Council were expecting
to receive detailed plans, a timetable, cost plans, a financial
package, planning permission and a signatory for the Event Organisation
Agreement for a London World Championships.
In the current circumstances, it seems improbable
that these assurances will be offered and thus London will formally
lose its status as the host city for 2005. Bids are then likely
to be reopened for a decision at the Spring 2002 Council Meeting
and it is believed that a number of other major cities will bid.
2005 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
The main factor that acts against Sheffield
in bidding for the World Championships is that it would follow
the lengthy, and ultimately unsuccessful, London bid. IAAF have
said publicly that they feel let down by the UK and that they
will not trust promises from the UK in the future. Following these
statements, for IAAF to accept a Sheffield or any other non-London
bid would appear highly unlikely.
Furthermore, the legacy that would be left from
staging the World Championships at Sheffield would not necessarily
represent good value for money given the investment required.
Don Valley already offers a large capacity stadium for athletics,
but in the late 1990s rarely drew a significant crowdto
extend it further would not provide improved spectator opportunitiesindeed
it may just provide a bigger bank of empty seats, reducing its
attractiveness to television, event holders and sponsors.
On the positive side, a Sheffield World Championships
would provide a huge boost to athletics in a region that hasn't
fulfilled its potential in the sport in recent years and would
complement the High Performance Centre being developed at the
site. It would also build on the event staging experience from
the World Student Games and other major events in the city, to
provide a well-managed event. Furthermore, Sheffield have expressed
a strong desire to again host one of UKA's annual televised meetings.
Any decision to proceed with a Sheffield bid
would need to consider these, and other, factors. Crucially it
would need to be taken jointly by UK Athletics, Government, Sport
England, UK Sport and Sheffield City Council and we would urge
that this decision is made as soon as possible.
The media have been understandably desperate
to apportion blame for the cancellation of the project. However,
whichever organisation or individual is deemed responsible, the
clear conclusion must be drawn that it reflects badly on British
sport as a whole (including UK Athletics).
Every organisation involved has vigorously defended
its position throughout and will feel that it was always "doing
the right thing". The result has been that despite all stating
support for the outcome, none of them was able to deliver it.
Consequently the credibility of British Sport has taken another
enormous battering both nationally and internationally.
Fundamental agreement between the myriad British
sporting agencies must be reached as to whether major events are
actually wanted in the UK or whether the emphasis should be placed
on wider sports development initiatives. Australia has shown that
the two are not mutually exclusive, but too often policy makers
in the UK have suggested that they are. Unfortunately these policy
shifts happen so frequently that the build-up to an event of the
size of the World Championships will pass through a number of
policy eras, leaving it in perpetual uncertainty. A debate on
these fundamental priorities led by Government and involving all
the sporting agencies is urgently required.
We would agree with the repeated suggestion
of the CMS Select Committee for a Minister of Events. The issues
at Picketts Lock (transport, funding, leadership) were not insoluble.
The project required hands-on leadership and Sport England, in
its role as a funding agency, could not offer this. As a consequence
local agencies and a sports governing body were expected to deliver
a national projectonly for the obvious conclusion to be
drawn: that despite many successes they lacked the clout to deliver
on all the required fronts.
British sport desperately needs modernising
if major events are to return to the UK. The multi-agency approach
is fundamentally flawed for an event of the scale of the World
Championships in Athleticsshould similar scale events be
pursued in future, a streamlining of decision-making and funding
regimes is essential.
UK Athletics have always pursued the staging
of the World Championships in the UK on the basis that a successful
event would leave a major legacy for the sport. In our opinion,
Picketts Lock would have achieved both for the sport.
However, the disappointment of the cancellation
of the project need not mean the cancellation of the legacy and
we are comforted by assurances from Government and Sport England
on this issue. We are working closely with both DCMS and Sport
England to define a substantial capital and revenue legacy investment
package for the development of all levels of athletics in this
country, and we look forward to a joint announcement on this in
15 October 2001