Memorandum submitted by Gateshead Metropolitan
Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council has hosted
and organised a wide range of sporting events since the Council's
inception in 1974. Central to the events hosting strategy has
been an aim to promote the town and heighten its profile. Originally
this was based on the successes at National and International
level of Gateshead Harrier, Brendan Foster and athletics became
the focal point of event promotion. It is in athletics that Gateshead
has developed an international reputation in terms of event organisation
and in the last two decades the following major events have been
staged in the town:
1983 IAAF World Cross Country Championships.
1985 IAAF World 15Km Road Race Championships.
1989 EAA European Cup.
1992 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships.
1997 World Veterans Track & Field Championships.
2000 EAA SPAR European Cup.
In addition to these World and European events,
Gateshead International Stadium has hosted at least one televised
domestic meeting every year since 1974.
Parallel to this strategy of staging major athletics
events the Council has worked with other National Governing Bodies
of Sport to host many other events of significance such as:
World Cup Rugby League 1995 and 2000;
European Short Course Swimming Championships;
European Championship Volleyball;
International Rugby Union; and
European Veterans Badminton Championships.
The Culture, Media and Sport Committee, in conducting
an inquiry to examine developments relating to matters considered
in the Committee's Fourth Report of Session 1998-99 on Staging
International Sporting Events, requested written evidence from
Gateshead Council in respect of the following:
1. The Councils recent experience in staging
major sporting events.
2. The progress of consideration of possible
bids for future events.
3. The Council's view on factors which may
affect the location of athletics events within the United Kingdom.
Gateshead Council in the last two years has
staged two major athletics events of World and European significance.
In 1999 the XIII WAVA World Veterans Track and
Field Championships were staged and in 2000 the SPAR European
Cup was held in Gateshead. Both events were considered to be successful
by the Council and the respective international federations, although
the success criteria were different in each case.
The SPAR European Cup was awarded by the European
Athletics Association (EAA) to UK Athletics (UKA) and Gateshead
in 1998. This award would mean that Gateshead became the only
venue to host the European Cup twice. Contractual arrangements
for this event were different to the norm in that the Council
contracted directly with EAA, thereby being responsible and accountable
to EAA for all aspects of the event including the financing of
To understand the reasons behind this it is
necessary to be aware of the original bidding process for the
event. In 1996 Gateshead Council was invited by the British Athletics
Federation (BAF) to become the venue partner in a bid for the
2000 European Cup.
In October 1997 the formal bid presentation
was made to EAA Council at their meeting in Budapest. In opposition
were France and Spain. After initially tying with France at the
voting stage, the second vote awarded the event to France with
the intention of staging the event in Martinique.
During the week after the presentation it became
apparent that BAF had gone into administration and would therefore
have been unable to meet the contractual obligations of the event.
In 1998 EAA contacted Gateshead Council directly
to invite it to host the 1999 European Cup as problems had arisen
with Martinique as a venue and there were knock on effects with
other locations. The Council had to decline the offer as it was
hosting the World Veterans Championships in 1999. EAA came back
with an invitation to host in 2000.
As the new National Governing Body, UK Athletics
(UKA) was in an early developmental stage and uncertain about
the financial basis of its future, it was clearly unable to take
on the organisational, administrative and financial responsibilities
of the event.
Against this background Gateshead Council accepted
the invitation from EAA and entered into a contractual arrangement.
Gateshead formed a Local Organising Committee
(LOC) predominantly from officers of the Council with representation
from UK Athletics and UK Sport. The LOC worked closely with EAA
and delivered a very successful event.
The event was supported by UK Sport from the
World Class Events Awards Programme and the objectives of UK Sport
in promoting their support of world class events and facilitate
successful events for the benefit of elite performers were achieved.
In terms of performance, Great Britain won the
men's competition and the women finished in sixth position. The
event took place on 15-16 July, two months before the Olympic
Games. Promotion of the event was affected by a significant number
of withdrawals from the Great Britain team and it is clear that
this had an adverse effect on attendance at the event. Nevertheless,
the event provided an excellent platform for the Great Britain
athletes taking part to compete against high-class opposition
in an international competition prior to Olympic competition.
The success of the Great Britain men's team in Britain was widely
acclaimed and promoted in the media providing a psychological
boost before Sydney.
From the Council's perspective the experience
of the event added weight to the argument that local authorities
have been the sustainable and reliable element in event promotion
in Britain for many years. Whilst, undoubtedly, the aims of the
Council were achieved in staging the event, it is clear from post
event feedback that British sport and, specifically, athletics
enhanced its reputation from an organisational point of view.
The British team was given an opportunity to prepare for major
competition in front of a partisan crowd and UK Athletics was
able to progress future major event bids on the back of a successful
event, effectively, made possible by the intervention of a local
The role of UK Sport in the event proved to
be helpful. Apart from the obvious financial support, the involvement
of UK Sport in assisting to develop a strategic focus and ensuring
the provision of quantifiable measures of impact, from an independent
consultant, has been beneficial.
The XIII WAVA World Veterans Track and Field
Championships were held in July/August 1999 over a two week period.
Gateshead was invited by the British Veterans Athletics Federation
(BVAF) to bid, on their behalf, for the Championships. The formal
bid was made in 1995 with opposition coming from Kuala Lumpur,
Victoria and St Petersburg.
The World Association of Veterans Athletes (WAVA)
awarded the event to Gateshead and a four year preparation for
the Championships commenced. Similar to the European Cup the LOC
was formed mainly from officers within Gateshead Council with
representation from UKA and BVAF.
The scale of the event was such that support
from two neighbouring authorities, South Tyneside and Chester-le-Street
was enlisted. This ensured that three track and field venues,
cross country and road event courses could be provided to accommodate
the anticipated 6,000 participants.
Again the financial responsibility and accountability
lay with Gateshead Council. The economic benefits to the Tyneside
region were significant but this could not be directly related
to the profit/loss account for the event.
The event was deemed ineligible for support
by Sport England and UK Sport as it did not fit the criteria laid
down for Major Event Funding. External funding was obtained from
the European Regional Development Fund in support of the event's
contribution to tourism and promotion activity for the region
and from the European Social Fund in support of training and skills
development for local people. The event was successfully delivered
and was acclaimed by WAVA and the 6,000 athletes while the benefits
aside from the economic impact were accrued in the following areas:
Over 1,000 volunteers received training
in preparation for receiving overseas visitors and participating
in the delivery of a major event.
Volunteers received NVQ accreditation.
Volunteers received "Welcome
British Track and Field Officials
gained valuable experience in officiating at a major championships
spanning a two week period.
Britain's reputation as an excellent
event organising nation was enhanced.
The profile of sport generally and
athletics specifically for older people was significantly increased
in the region, emphasising the social and health related benefits
of active participation.
Outside of the Olympic Games the WAVA World
Championships is generally acknowledged as the largest track and
field championships in the World. Again, recognising that Gateshead
and the Tyneside region gained benefit from staging the event
it is worth noting that, without local authority involvement,
this event would not have been staged in Britain. In 2001 the
Championships will be staged in Brisbane, Australia and the event
was secured for Brisbane by the Queensland Events Corporation.
The QEC is in existence to attract, organise and promote events
in Queensland and is financially supported by the Queensland state
government and Brisbane City Council.
Gateshead Council has, since 1974, developed
facilities to host major events with specific aims designed to
benefit the Council and residents of the Borough. It is clear,
however, that the significant commitment to facility development,
officer time, infrastructure, marketing as well as the opportunity
cost of using facilities and officer time also represents a significant
investment in sport to the benefit of the nation in general.
There are many major events which would be desirable
for Britain to host. The reasons for staging them are well documented
and it is not intended to repeat them here. Within the list of
major events there are a number that will return an operating
surplus, however, there are many more which will require a subsidy.
Traditionally, it has been local authorities
that have provided that subsidy to enable British sport and National
Governing Bodies to host those events, many at World or European
National Governing Bodies have, in general,
entered into partnerships with those local authorities who have
developed facilities, event organising capacity and made resources
available financial and otherwise, in order to stage major events.
It is only relatively recently that a move towards a strategic
approach to event bidding and hosting has emerged in most sports
and this is due to an extent to the conditions applying to Lottery
To enable facilities to be provided to the level
and standard required for major events also requires a strategic
approach. Notwithstanding the needs of events such as World Cups,
Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games the majority of others are
staged in existing facilities which need to be sustainable and
viable. The demands of Governing Bodies, elite performers, media
and spectators increase year on year and consequently investment
in facilities needs to increase year on year. Away from professional
sport, in the main, major performance and spectator venues are
provided by local authorities. In considering their investment
plans for such facilities local authorities will have regard
to the future use by NGB's and, clearly, will look for some degree
of certainty in this respect.
New facilities may be provided at any time by
local authorities or other providers and this may increase the
supply element of the supply/demand equation. NGB's will, of course,
be interested in taking advantage of such new build facilities
and this will increase the uncertainty within the supply sector.
Gateshead would advocate a strategic approach
to event bidding and procurement which commenced in the domestic
market. Accepting that successful bidding for international events
is influenced by many and varied factors it is advocated that
the selection of a venue to support any British bid is made on
the basis of considering all relevant factors and should not be
made solely on geographical factors.
The issue of deciding who can bid and on what
basis is in need of clarification. To comply with conditions of
grant regulations in respect of UK Sport Lottery Funding it is
necessary to follow an agreed procedure which includes NGB approval
and the event being part of an NGB events strategy. Outside of
that there does not appear to be any other regulation and the
bidding protocols of many international federations do not require,
although it would be desirable, NGB approval to be given to bidding
organisations. The incentive of Lottery funding can lock organisations
into a regulated strategic framework and it could be desirable
for other incentives to be introduced to facilitate a strategic
and inclusive national approach.
The quality of bids progressing into an international
arena would benefit from the harnessing of existing bidding expertise.
This happens, to a degree, on an informal basis and it would be
helpful if a mechanism was in place to ensure that the pool of
knowledge was available and utilised by prospective bidders.
Prior to that, however, the platform to prepare
future international bids should be provided by ensuring an incentive
is offered to venues and local authorities in order to maintain
a suitable portfolio of sustainable venues and event organising
capacity. This involves NGB's being required to guarantee an equitable
allocation of suitable events to accredited venues on reasonable
terms in respect of support to the event, as part of a long-term
partnership arrangement. UK Sport as a Lottery fund distributor
could play a significant role in ensuring that this process occurs.
This system would ensure that an incentive existed for local authorities
to maintain or improve existing facilities and organisational
capacity and to guarantee that expertise was similarly maintained
Factors Affecting the Location of Athletics Events
within the United Kingdom
Gateshead Council is concerned at the potential
impact on the location of athletics events within the UK arising
from the development of a National Athletics Stadium at Pickets
Lock. There are well-documented concerns over the viability and
need for the Stadium and within the viability equation is the
current lack of athletics events likely to attract spectators
and therefore revenue. It is suggested by UKA that domestic televised
athletics events will continue to be placed around the country
as at present. However, whether that is the case or not, Gateshead
Council believes that the opportunity to host events of an international
status will not be available to provincial stadia when a National
Stadium is in place. This will clearly reduce the opportunity
for spectators away from the South of England to see live the
highest level competition as well as taking away from local authorities
the incentive to invest in facilities for major athletics events
and seems to contradict the Government's policy of de-centralisation.
A proposed joint bid by Newcastle and Gateshead
Councils to stage the 2006 European Athletics Championships is
currently the subject of a feasibility study. Before the study
commenced UKA advised that they would be likely to decline support
for the putative bid. The fundamental reason for withholding support
is that an event of such importance would go to the proposed National
Stadium in order to justify its position as the country's premier
athletics venue. It is acknowledged that UKA are staging World
Championships events in 2003 and 2005 and the implication of staging
those would need to be considered against a 2006 European Championship
bid but it is demotivating and restrictive to deny progressive
local authorities, that have supported British athletics over
two decades, the opportunity to progress a bid because of a policy
of centralisation. There are several local authority owned stadia
in Britain that have supported British athletics for many years.
Investing the £60 million identified for Picketts Lock in
these stadia would provide British athletics with a portfolio
of excellent stadia capable of staging domestic and international
events, while providing the local authorities with the incentive
to continue with their significant, and recurring, financial investment
in supporting British athletics' major events.
UKA have assigned the marketing rights for televised
athletics meetings to an agency. On an annual basis venues bid
for the privilege of staging a televised meeting. This process
is clearly competitive and has the potential to provide the greatest
financial return to UKA and the agency. It also has the effect
of destabilising and creating uncertainty within those organisations
providing the venues. There is an escalation in the cost of hosting
televised athletics meetings which relates to the contribution
required by UKA's agency, the increasing operational costs arising
from safety issues, spectator welfare, emergency services and
such like as well as the continuing investment in the Stadium.
Venues that have supported British athletics for many years face
the uncertainty of not knowing from one year to another whether
a domestic meeting will be staged there. On the other hand other
venues prepared to offer increased contributions, provide a temporary
infrastructure in the form of temporary seating may have the opportunity
to stage an event for one year for a specific purpose and then