Examination of Witness (Questions 380
WEDNESDAY 14 MARCH 2001
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
(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
(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.
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
(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.