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

Annex 27

Letter, 30 August 2001, from the Chairman of Sport England to the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport


  I was grateful for the opportunity to discuss progress on the Wembley and Picketts Lock reviews on Tuesday morning. I agree that it is important that we maintain a close dialogue over the coming weeks as the reviews are finalised and conclusions are reached as to the best way forward. In this context, I thought it might be helpful to clarify a number of issues.


  I understand that Patrick Carter is likely to complete his report for submission to you and I on Friday 31 August. We will review his conclusions, consider further the outcomes of the review and prepare for further discussions upon your return from holiday. In the meantime, as discussed, I will seek guidance from the Sports Council when it meets on 3 September, as to its likely approach to a number of scenarios. The Council's view is likely to be informed by a range of factors, including:

    —  The extent to which the outstanding issues on the viability and deliverability of Picketts Lock have been resolved, or are capable of satisfactory resolution in the very near future. The Council must satisfy itself that all projects meet standard funding criteria related, for example, to viability and value for money, before it can consider the award of funds;

    —  The potential for the event to be relocated from London to a suitable venue elsewhere. I welcome your proposals for meetings with UK Athletics and the IAAF to explore this possibility;

    —  The impact on other programmes. As you know, the Council is very concerned about the impact of recent new commitments to the Commonwealth Games. The main impact relates to our ability to meet our objectives through the community programme. The Council would need to be reassured that sufficient funds were committed to the project from other sources in order to bridge the estimated funding gap, on the event budget and the stadium.

  I am very keen to set up the series of meetings we discussed to ensure that the way forward is agreed by the end of September. This would enable me to present the findings to the Council for approval on 1 October 2001. Perhaps your office could contact Anne Browne to identify suitable dates for a further meeting between us, and meetings with UK Athletics and the IAAF?


  We have supported Patrick in his review of the Wembley project, and in particular we have facilitated a review of the potential design and cost options for the stadium. We have also discussed with Patrick his proposals for the future management of the project and the role that Sport England might play in securing its successful implementation. It is important that progress is maintained to ensure that an agreed outcome is achieved by the end of September to enable the project to move forward. In the meantime, there are a number of issues that need to be taken into account during the discussions that will take place once Patrick's report is completed:

    —  Protection of the grant—we remain very committed to the successful implementation of the project, and will work with you and the other key stakeholders to progress matters. However, our primary concern remains the protection of the £120 million grant. It is critical that there is agreement as to the repayment of the grant prior to any decision not to go ahead on the current site. I was grateful for your acknowledgement of this point, and of the need to ensure that the grant remains protected in each scenario.

    —  £20 million payment—it is likely that the review will re-confirm the project as the national stadium for association football and rugby league. It is important, therefore, that the agreement reached by the Government and the FA in December 1999 is retained, and that £20 million is repaid to Sport England.

    —  Project Structure—a project structure needs to be agreed and implemented, which may involve an enhanced role for Sport England, as put forward by Patrick in his recent meeting with us. We have since written to Patrick summarising the issues that would need to be addressed, and we remain keen to progress these discussions in the very near future.

    —  Implementation—there is a need to move ahead quickly with two other issues; first, the negotiation of, and agreement to, a way forward between the key stakeholders, including the FA; and second, the development of an implementation plan to schedule key tasks in the period prior to financial close and start on site. We would suggest that the negotiation phase is completed by the end of September to provide a degree of certainty on the project. I have asked Ian to discuss with Robert the best way of taking these issues forward.

  Once again, thank you for the opportunity to discuss these issues in some depth on Tuesday. I look forward to further discussions in the very near future. In the meantime, I hope you manage to have a relaxing break.

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