Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex to Appendix 9

  I refer to your broadcast of yesterday, inviting comments upon where we would like the new National Football Stadium to be built. My choice is the NEC or Coventry. I am not adverse to Coventry, as its ratepayers can pick up extra bills.

  There is a factor that disappoints me immensely and that is the lack of ability of your researchers, producers and broadcasters to remember the previous national discussion which took place on this issue in about 1977 or thereabouts. I am from the East Midlands and lived about two miles from the place that had been previously selected as the site for a new national stadium.

  At the time Jimmy Hill, a Londoner, was Manager of Coventry City and he threw his weight being the project to have the new stadium built at Annesley, Nottingham. If you look in your atlas and find junction 27 on the M1, you will note that there is a short road which takes you East for about a mile until it meets the Nottingham-Mansfield road, whose number I cannot recall. Immediately on the northside of this junction is a plot of land that is partly owned by Kodak. The other part is occupied as a business park.

  This topic was raised in a radio discussion by Darren Fletcher on Radio 106 FM for the East Midlands. I telephoned them with the following information.

  In response to a similar question that was put out for discussion in the 1970's, Notts County Council made a positive response and offered to agree to the above green belt land being made available for the building of the new national sports stadium, which was not to be confined to football. The FA or Football league expressed an interest but they could not raise the £78 million for the project, as at that time the countries finances were said to be in a shambles. I seem to think that it was the time that these political bandits raised mortgage rates to 15.5 per cent.

  Shortly afterwards, another listener telephoned in to say that he agreed with my recollections and added some very important additional information, namely that if this project got the go-ahead, the FA and the Football League would move their own head quarters to Annesley. I agree with this additional information. I also have an additional recollection namely that a football academy was also to be established at Annesley and the facilities at Lilleshall would be closed.

  Someone needs to go into a library for this period and have a look at what the Nottingham and Mansfield newspapers published at that time. Unfortunately, the MP for Ashfield emigrated to Australia and his replacement, Frank Haynes, died last year.

  On these facts, there should be no problem at all in the Government giving more than lip service to moving the National Stadium away from Wembley, Middlesex, which is not London. It is most unfortunate that the land at Annesley has been reallocated to other companies. The land remained vacant for a long time after the above project did not materialise.

  A point I made to Darren Fletcher is that when issues of this nature are raised for discussion, criticism is made of the placement of these sites as of now. No one bothers to enquire of what where the local circumstances when the decision was made to build the stadium in the first place. In 1923 Wembley was built in an open space and so was just about every other football, cricket and rugby stadium.

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