Supplementary memorandum submitted by
This paper responds to questions arising from
UK Athletics' written and oral evidence to the CMS Select Committee
regarding the Picketts Lock project.
Before addressing the specific questions , UK
Athletics wishes to clarify one response given in oral evidence
by David Moorcroft on 23rd October that has subsequently been
picked up in the media. Mr Chris Bryant MP asked him:
You seem now to be accepting, maybe grudgingly,
the present situation, so do you think that the Government has
made the right decision again now?
Mr Moorcroft's reply was taken by some to be
an acknowledgement that Government had made the right decision.
He was in fact attempting to convey that Government had been right
to be decisive, yet that he was disappointed and disagreed with
the decision that was taken.
1. Mr Moorcroft did not recognise the
quotation attributed to him by the Committee: [UK Athletics] "are
as convinced as ever that the new Wembley will provide a great
home for flagship athletics events." Confusion perhaps arose
over the choice of publication (Building magazine) I enclose a
number of other press reports of his comments. Does your latest
memorandum to us represent a change of view? Why?
We do not feel that there is any contradiction
between our current stance and that reflected in the quotes from
1999. All the quotes made it clear that the platform solution
at Wembley offered a sound technical solution for hosting flagship
Nothing in our written evidence contradicts
this viewit made reference to a lack of legacy with the
platform option but did not question the capability of the platform
to offer the one-off solution for flagship events. Similarly,
Mr Moorcroft's comments in oral evidence confirmed this when he
said "I do not think anyone has ever doubted that Wembley
. . . could have delivered athletics."
Out consistent position has been that pursuit
of the twin goals of flagship event and legacy was preferablehence
the National Athletics Centre concept at Picketts Lock which would
have offered both.
2. You wrote that Picketts Lock would
run at a deficit "like many sports facilities". How
many other such facilities run at a deficit of between, £1-1.5
million per year?
Firstly it should be noted that the two detailed
business plans for the Picketts Lock project both showed a range
of deficits all under £1 millionneither study concluded
that £1.5 million was a likely deficit scenarioit
seems to be an arbitrary figure in the Carter Report.
The level of the deficit in a leisure facility
is a product of its scale, the facility mix, the pricing policy
and the revenue generating opportunities. Certain facilities are
well known in the leisure industry as invariably operating at
a deficitcommunity swimming pools are the most obvious
because of their high fixed costs and low pricing policies. Athletics
facilities also usually run at a deficit as they are priced with
maximum accessibility in mind and do not lend themselves to multi-use
The combination of these factors of scale, facility
mix, pricing policy and revenue generating opportunities at the
proposed National Athletics Centre were such that a large deficit
was anticipated, at least in the early years before further revenue
drawing opportunities could come on stream.
There are no "other such facilities"
with which to provide comparisons, as this was a unique attempt
to provide a national facility. However, the value of the project
was recognised in the proposed contributions from four organisations
towards the deficit.
3. How far do you accept responsibility
for what has happened? Is it fair to say that in abandoning Wembley
in favour of a new national athletics stadium in London you have
fallen between the two stools and have ended up with nothing?
We do not accept responsibility for "abandoning
Wembley" because we did no such thing. A decision was taken
by the then Secretary of State to remove athletics from Wembley
and a deal was struck with the FA to this effect. This decision
having been taken, we sought to find a London venue for the World
Championships in 2005. Picketts Lock was unanimously selected
and was the basis for a united bid to the IAAF in April 2000.
In the long run, we trust that we will not end
up with nothingboth the Secretary of State and Sport England
have signed up to the delivery of a significant legacy investment
4. The former Secretary of State was
consistently upbeat and confident about the prospects for closing
the capital funding gap and for the identification of a third
party to underwrite the 2005 championships. Did you feel that
you had an undertaking from Government that it would make its
business to find funding and a guarantor for the Picketts Lock
stadium and the 2005 games?
We felt that Government had always been an active
partner in the World Championships and National Stadium projectsas
evidenced by the removal of athletics from Wembley and the leadership
of the London bid to the IAAF in Paris.
We had no reason to think that this partnership
would not continue, and we remained confident, even with Ministerial
changes, that we would receive assistance from Government in those
aspects of the project that had consistently been highlighted
as requiring leadership and support.
5. As the formal originator of any bid
to the IAAF to host its events in the UK, was it appropriate that
the Government switched the venue on offer for 2005 from London
to Sheffield without consulting you?
We were consulted on 4 October before the Secretary
of State informed the IAAF of Government's decision to cancel
Picketts Lock. We stated our reservations but the decision remained.
As stated in our initial evidence to this Committee, we were disappointed
not to be involved earlier in discussions with DCMS and Sport
England over World Championships alternatives.
6. You express your disappointment that
the Carter report was not shared with you until decisions were
taken by Ministers and the day that announcements were made. Did
this give you a sense of deja vu recalling the manner in which
the Government and UK Sport handled the Ellerbe Becket report
on the Wembley platform in December 1999?
This is a very good question, though the situations
were not quite the same. The Ellerbe Becket report was produced
at great speed and, we understand, with no contact with the Wembley
Stadium design team who could have corrected the factual inaccuracies.
In contrast, the Carter Report team was reasonably well resourced
and had longer to look at the issues. Furthermore, there was a
reasonable amount of interaction between the project team and
the review team.
However, if we had been shown a draft report,
we could have corrected inaccuracies and proposed solutions to
some of the issues raised. It has also emerged in evidence that
UK Sport and the British Olympic Association did not have access
to the Carter team. This is regrettable as decisions on events
of the magnitude of the World Championships in Athletics have
ramifications for the UK's standing in world sport and this should
have been considered.
7. You say that you advised Mr Carter
and the Government that the IAAF would be unlikely to accept a
venue other than London (as did UK Sport). What response did you
receive to this advice?
We received no written response, though in conversations
with DCMS officials it was clear that our opinion had been noted.
We repeated our assertion on 4 October, but the Secretary of State
made it clear that she wished the IAAF to have a UK venue to consider
in place of Picketts Lock.
8. In January 2000 you wrote to us that
"the Wembley National Stadium saga illustrates many of the
inherent weaknesses in the administration of British Sport. It
has highlighted a lack of clarity between the roles and responsibilities
of sport's key statutory and governing bodies and it is essential
that we are able to act upon the lessons learnt from this exercise".
Do you feel that the lessons to which you referred then have not
been learned? Do you think the Performance and Innovation Unit
review announced by the Secretary of State on 23 October can make
British sport has learned many lessons in the
Lottery era, and in the last year or so this has resulted in far
better co-operation between the many agencies working on community
initiatives, events and performance plans. However, it would appear
to be the major projects and major events that result in confusion
and conflictinvariably because of uncertainty over the
role played by Government and its statutory agencies.
It has to be remembered that amongst international
governing bodies of sport there is no interest in the detail of
how the UK delivers on its sporting commitmentsquite simply
there is (or was) trust that we have a structure that ensures
that promises will be honoured. When we fail to live up to this
trust, our international sporting credibility is affected enormously.
If the review was to clarify nothing else other
than the role of Government in major projects and major events
then it will have achieved somethingand we hope that the
review concludes that the Government's role in major events is
more than one of enabler. However, clarity over the role for Government
in delivery is not the fundamental issuefirstly Government
have to decide whether or not it actually wishes to attract major
sporting events to the UK.
There appeared to be consensus within British
sport on this issue in the Nineties with the commitment to build
a National Stadium and with the publication of UK Sport's Major
Events Strategy. However, recent decisions and comments from the
Minister for Sport, suggest that this consensus is no longer in
place and there is perhaps not a commitment to major events.
We hope that the review will highlight the importance
of a fundamental Governmental decision on major events. Once taken,
this decision has to be seen as a long-term directionto
be continued whatever changes in personnel, and ideally to have
sufficient all-party support that it would even survive a change
29 October 2001