Fax, 2 August 2000, from WNSL to Sport
England, and Covering Letter, 31 January 2000 from the Chairman
of the Football Association to the then Secretary of State for
Culture, Media and Sport
Please see the attached letter. Can we discuss
this as soon as possible.
Thank you for the copy letter to Ken dated 7
January 2000. We held the first meeting of our newly formed Board
last week and were able to give this matter full consideration.
At the meeting with Ken, a payment schedule
was discussed, amounting to £20 million over five years.
There is a lot of detail to be worked on, but I am sure this matter
can be concluded in reasonably quick time. However, there are
a number of key points I would like to record, and some issues
for the future.
1. You have been kind enough to acknowledge
that neither the Football Association, nor Wembley National Stadium
Limited, have been in breach of the Lottery Funding Agreement
with the English Sports Council (now Sport England). ESC have
also confirmed this.
2. There is therefore no suggestion of either
the Football Association or Wembley National Stadium Limited having
to "pay back" lottery money. This would be a voluntary
understanding between the Football Association group of companies
(ie. the FA and WNSL) and the Governmentwe are of course
partners in many significant areas and we see this very much as
an aspect of this ongoing relationship.
3. You were also kind enough to say that
in your view the Lottery Funding Agreement should, and could,
be amended to reduce the amount of grant to £100 million,
and to release some of the commercial constraints on WNSL so that
it can generate funds to enable the payments by this group.
4. There needs careful thought within DCMS
and ESC and ourselves to work out how this can be achieved. We
firmly believe that the solution will eventually need to come
from within DCMS and ESC as we find it difficult to second guess
the obligations that exist on you and Derek, particularly public
accountability for Lottery funds, and the relationship between
the two organisations. We have had no discussion with ESC on this
matter, and would need to look to you for guidance. Derek has
raised the need for a meeting.
5. If the only solution is for payments to
be made to ESC, which then reduce the grant, then a proposal might
be that the £120 million is simply reduced by the amount
of each payment made by the FA group from time to time, up to
a ceiling of £20 million. This would preserve ESC's previous
right to block a total repayment by us. As I have said, relaxed
commercial constraints will enable this to take place as well
as various other changes reflecting the new approach to various
stadium issues for which you have asked. This overall approach
also avoids any liability to "repay" £20 million
having to be shown in the Balance Sheets of either of the FA companies,
which for various different reasons would raise significant difficulties.
All parties will need to undertake to approach these discussions
constructively to find solutionsthat is certainly the spirit
of our dealings so far, and you have my assurance that our team
will continue in this way.
I think this accords with your approach to this
issue, but I would be grateful if you would just confirm this.