Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 380 - 386)



Mr Faber

  380. Could I go back to the £20 million which we were discussing. I think we are sort of getting there. We had a meeting at Number 10. You were sent in to haggle. The Secretary of State wanted £40 million, you plumped for £20 million. Were you given authority to bring any pressure to bear on football that they had a moral responsibility to produce this money? Was any mention made at the time of a regulator, an official regulator, for football, for instance?
  (Sir Nigel Mobbs) I was aware that there were discussions going on in other places about the situation of football and that did include the possibility of regulation.

  381. You did not at any stage use that in your argument?
  (Sir Nigel Mobbs) Not in those specific terms, no.

  382. The £20 million was subsequently arrived at. In your discussions with football did you have any discussions on commercial restrictions at Wembley to do with the issue of either marketing rights at the stadium, naming rights within the stadium, things like that?

   (Sir Nigel Mobbs) During my discussions with the stadium company and with Sport England and with the Football Association there was reference made to that but there was no specific request to lift the commercial restrictions included in the Lottery agreement.

  383. Having negotiated the deal on a handshake, as you say, which should be fine—
  (Sir Nigel Mobbs) Could I just emphasise on the handshake, my remit was really to negotiate the amount. It was then for Sport England and the Lottery authorities and the stadium and FA to negotiate the actual detail of the agreement together with the Secretary of State's office.


  384. Could I interrupt you again. I meant to ask you last time around: do you think a handshake is an appropriate way of agreeing to the transfer of £20 million of public money?
  (Sir Nigel Mobbs) What my role was was to negotiate, if I can put it this way, the heads of terms of a settlement which would then be enshrined in proper documentation and agreement between the parties from that moment on. My role as a negotiator ceased at that point. So the handshake in a sense is phase one of the normal trend of negotiation.

  385. Did you keep an eye henceforward on the preparation and agreements and signature of that proper documentation?
  (Sir Nigel Mobbs) No.

Mr Faber

  386. That was really my final question. Given the proviso you have just made probably you will not have a view but you will be aware that there is now considerable discussion as to the £20 million. No payment has yet been made although the first tranche was supposed to have been paid last year. Do you still feel that is a valid agreement and do you anticipate the money being paid? Sport England clearly if they are to make a reasonable stab at funding Picketts Lock need that money back but there is evidence certain members of the Wembley Board and others do not want to give the money back. It is still only a moral obligation as I am aware, there is no documentation at all yet.
  (Sir Nigel Mobbs) I believe that is so. What I do know is that it was recognised by the stadium company in the financial presentations they were making to raise the funding for the stadium at the back end of last year, there was reference made to it in their financial presentations.

  Chairman: Sir Nigel, I would like to thank you. You have been, if I may say so without being patronising, creditably frank and forthcoming to us. We appreciate that. Your evidence has been very valuable. I repeat our gratitude to you for changing your arrangements in order to come here at short notice. Thank you.

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