Examination of Witnesses (Questions 160
TUESDAY 23 OCTOBER 2001
HEMERY, MBE, MR
OBE, MR ADAM
160. It was £65.3 million from Sport England
to Picketts Lock. It is a lot of money, is it not?
(Mr Moorcroft) Yes.
161. Then there was a gap for the taxpayer to
fill. It is a lot of money to provide somebody with a wish list,
is it not?
(Mr Moorcroft) One of the frustrations of this whole
process is, when the concept of a National Stadium for Sport began
to be developed in the early 1990s and came to fruition in the
mid 90s, part of the reason to have a National Stadium for Sport
was to attract major events; that was stated in various strategies.
The major of the major events were Olympic Games, World Cup Football
and World Athletics Championships. There seemed to be an assumption
then that it was a good idea to attract major events to this country.
One of the frustrations I have felt throughout this processand
people have rightly challenged whether or not it is actually a
good idea to have those major events, and whether it does represent
good valueis that we are having that debate now, when actually
that should have taken place in the early 90s. I think this whole
process has tested our desire to have events of the magnitude
of the World Athletics Championships. What we need to decide as
a nation is, do we want these events, and are we prepared to pay
the cost? If we are prepared to pay the cost we accept, therefore,
that the challenge is to deliver good value for that cost. Moving
forward: what do we now do? One of the questions we need to ask
in sport is: what is more importantmajor games or investments
in sport? I actually think you can have both, and I think Australia
have proved that. Maybe, if the choice is between investment in
grass roots or major events, maybe we need to be strong enough
as a nation to say, no, we will go the route of investment in
sport. I think that needs to be led by government. If we are going
to deliver major events and major capital projects, government
have to be pivotal. Governing bodies and the other statutory bodies
are supportive but cannot lead that. We have shown that with this
162. I take the view, in any event, that attracting
major sporting events is prestigious for the nation. I suspect
if one were to do a cost benefit analysis it would turn out not
to be as costly in the longer term as we think and it brings in
tourism. However, I have made myself rather unpopular by suggesting
that we can only really attract international events by having
them in London. I do not represent a London constituency and I
am not a Londoner; but London has its attractions as far as people
from outside are concerned. Talking about locations in London,
Picketts Lock is dead. It seems to me we are almost going round
in a complete circle now as far as Wembley is concerned. We had
a very interesting witness last week, Rod Sheard, of the World
Stadium Team who suggested that we could indeed have held the
Athletics Championships at Wembley with new designs of platforms.
I wonder if you would like to comment on that, particularly given
that you said in 1999 in December in Building Magazine,
a magazine which we all read avidly, "We are as convinced
as ever that the new Wembley will provide a great home for flagship
athletics events". Your latest memorandum seems to express
a change of view. Would you like to expand on that?
(Mr Moorcroft) I neither subscribe to Building
Magazine nor can I ever remember making comments to it, so
I have a problem with that quote. I do not think anyone has ever
doubted that Wembley, even two or three years ago, had it gone
ahead could have delivered athletics. The decision the Secretary
of State made was, does it reflect good value? The position we
are at now, the major issue to do with Wembley is that of risk.
163. When we were talking to Rod Sheard last
week there was the whole question which he felt not really valid
of sightlines. Criticism was not so much that the Wembley Stadium
plan was too expensive, but rather that it was impractical as
far as athletics and, indeed, football were concerned. You are
saying that is not the case?
(Mr Moorcroft) No, I think Wembley would argue (and
they are the only ones qualified to do it) that actually the sightlines
issue was irrelevant. As far as sightlines were concerned the
platform solution would have worked well with athletics, and I
have to accept that. I do not think that is the issue. It is very
difficult to be assertive as a sport like athletics when you do
not have an enormous amount of money in the process. There is
a danger of being bounced around between the various organisations
involved in this. Just to return to the current Wembley situation:
there is a huge degree of risk associated with Wembley as it is
now. Irrespective of whether a platform represents good value,
irrespective of issues to do with land acquisition for warm-up
tracks, were we still locked into Wembleywith all the uncertainty
surrounding Wembley and the fact that Wembley has not gone ahead
as a projectwe may well be facing the IAAF with the same
embarrassment saying, "We cannot deliver on Wembley".
Clearly a number of people would have said, "The issues to
do with the withdrawal of athletics from Wembley have actually
made the situation worse". I could not really comment on
that, other that to say, as far as I am aware, within the business
plan athletics is fairly neutral. If the city did not support
the business plan and Wembley as it stood on the basis of the
business plan without athletics, it was unlikely to support it
if athletics was in there. I think there would have been a large
amount of risk. Clearly Sir Rodney is now looking at a potentially
different solution within Wembley that possibly is more affordable.
We would still have that same risk, and the IAAF would still have
that same dilemma of saying, "Is there that degree of certainty
that Wembley will be built and ready on time?" I think it
is all wrapped in the lessons we have learnt from this collectively
and, hopefully, moving ahead in a more co-operative and united
way in the future on projects like this.
164. It seems to me (we are all convinced on
the Committee) everything has been such a muddle. We have had
people in front of us who are dedicated to their own sport and
to sporting as a whole and all the benefits it brings to people
of all ages. Do you agree that we seem to have been driven along
by the staging of international sporting events. I give a couple
of examples to you. I believe that the bidding for the World Cup
meant we had to go to the Wembley site, an unsatisfactory location
in many ways, because of the history of it and the attraction
it would have to people around the world. Then with the athletics
we ended up with proposals for Picketts Lock. I have heard you
just say now, and I agree, all the wonderful facilities it would
give all the year round for athletics and the development of athletes,
whereas really the thing has fallen because of the staging or
wanting to stage a major athletics event. I think the problem
has come because previously we did not have the Lottery money
and then suddenly lots of people were attracted by the major events;
and instead of looking from the bottom and deciding what sort
of different types of stadiums and athletics, what sort of facilities
we needed, we have been driven along by these major events. Government
works on very short timescales and to put the infrastructure right
for all sports we need to work on long timescales. What would
you like for athletics? Could not Crystal Palace have had events
and the big events take place in somewhere like Wembley?
(Mr Moorcroft) Patrick Carter looked at Crystal Palace
as an option for the World Athletics Championships and identified
similar issues that were at Lee Valley, with transport, accommodation,
planning, land availability and other things. Maybe it is more
a reflection on London as a problem area for major events, rather
than necessarily Lee Valley. I think you are right, in the sense
that we have tried to adapt things around a desire to have a major
event. I hate to say it, but maybe the Australians have got it
right. Back in the mid 70s they had their worst ever Olympic Games
in Montrealno gold medals. They came away from Montreal
and said, "We as a nation need to invest a massive amount
of money into sport". They began by developing sport. Then
at a point in that period they said, "Actually I think now
we can hold major events", and they have done both spectacularly
well. Possibly, on reflection, we have tried to do too many things
too quickly, and we became over-dependent on Lottery. I think
one of the frustrations Sport England would say is that there
is an assumption that Lottery is 100 per cent funders of these
events, when in fact they can only be partial funders albeit very
important ones. Now what we have to do as a nation is say, "What
are our priorities?" If we feel we are developing sport now
so well through Lottery funding we are in a position in the near
future to attract major events, then that is a reasonable decision
to make as long as everybody recognises what the implications
of that decision are. I really think it is incumbent upon Government
to lead in that. Like Australia and every other nation, if we
are going to have major national projects, and major international
events like the Olympics, World Cup and World Athletics Championships,
then we need the comfort of knowing that Government and cross-Party
support is there; so through the duration of the process there
will be support, and that support will be absolutely unequivocal
until the thing is delivered. Alternatively, as a nation we could
say, "Now let's get on with developing sport and then worry
about major events". I think this decision actually forces
us (because we lost our international credibility) to take the
latter route. It is one that should be taken by sport collectively,
but a process led by Government.
165. David Hemery, if it is important that the
IAAF World Championships be held in a capital city, what is the
point of Sheffield even thinking about it?
(Mr Hemery) At this stage it is a great question.
UK Sport was saying they had changed their view following Edmonton
to have it primarily in capital cities. Following the carpet being
pulled out from under them, we are reneging on our promise to
host it. A fairly cold comment from the President of the IAAF
was, "Sheffield will not get that games". That was not
just because of Sheffield. "We have given it to you. It is
yours until November. If you wish to come back and say, `We will
put it on in London', it is your championships, but if it goes
beyond that don't expect it to come to the UK because you reneged
on your promise".
166. It seems to me that £150 million from
Treasury is not much to ask for. It is diddly squat in the whole
business. It is your feel that there is just not the political
will within government to do this and, therefore, Carter was commissioned
to actually close down Picketts Lock and not find a solution.
(Mr Hemery) I do not know what his brief was. Investment
of that kind would be fantastic if it included the legacy. If
we had a choice from early days to say whether we would like a
large amount of money to go into legacy or major championships,
we probably would have chosen the legacy. I truly believe that
sport has such an incredible impact, not just on performance level
but on social inclusion, on health and education. It could actually
act as a hub for a large amount of human development, it is on
that basis we have been writing up our proposals that we got pulled
into, "Could we put on major championships?" If it was
possible to get Treasury or Exchequer money to do both then that,
in my view, would be a very healthy future for UK sport.
167. It is just an observationwe do not
have an all Party athletics point in the House and maybe that
is something we should think about. Do you think the IAAF has
devalued the World Championships by having them every two years?
(Mr Hemery) Probably. That was done for a commercial
reason. There are now a huge number of championships. The Olympic
Games still hold the major one. If you have a look at it (the
world championships) from international representation208
countries take part in athletics; it is the largest international
representation of any sort. In terms of the UK wanting to have
it, there was a survey done by the UK Sports Council which showed
that only one per cent less of the UK's population wanted to see
the World Athletics Championships in this countryone per
cent behind the (football) World Cup. There was a desire to have
home soil, and who knows what kind of inspiration that is going
to be young people. We have not had major games here since 1948,
so I could see why there had been a reasonable intent to have
major championships looked for; but, as David said, the first
thing should be to develop the infrastructure of all sports and
then move on to looking at major championships.
168. We have never supported sport properly
for young people in this country and yet we complain constantly
that we do not win medals at the Olympics and Championships. I
also agree that it is an issue about health and social inclusion.
There is a huge agenda there that we ought to be addressing. First
of all we should put the investment into sport, not just athletics
but swimming and all the other things that we want to get young
people involved in. There are far too many young people in this
country sitting at home in front of a PC. That is fine, but they
are not out there actually being involved, and I think it is up
to Government to encourage that by investment. Given what you
have already said, is it at all possible to consider 2005 for
Britain, and actually consider saying to the IAAF that we are
just no longer going to do that? Is that really the bottom line?
(Mr Moorcroft) I think it is just possible but we
have to have a huge dose of reality. I think the possibility in
terms of Sheffieldthere is no doubt Sheffield can host
itis a kind of negative possibility; it is a possibility
that there actually are no other bidders to the IAAF. That is
very unlikely, and currently there are many countries that are
going through an internal process to decide on the venue that
they will be putting forward to the IAAF, assuming that in November
they re-open bids. Because of the events of 11 September and other
issues, it is not inconceivable that the IAAF may not have any
other bids. So there is a degree of sense in still holding out
our options, but one thing, I think, that must happen in terms
of Sheffield is that if the decision is made to continue with
the Sheffield bid or not to continue, that that is made by Sport
England, Government, UK Athletics and Sheffield together, so that
the united front that we have not had with Picketts Lock we actually
have with this. Then there must be a recognition that the Secretary
of State, the Minister and others have been in a very difficult
situation with this, and that from it we have actually got to
work far closer together to make sure the right things are done
at the right time.
169. We have learned a lot from that. Should
all those organisations be getting together with Government and
saying "Look, the money that was going to be invested in
an event, can we talk about how we invest that into the infrastructure
of sport in the country with a view to, eventually, getting events?"
(Mr Moorcroft) I think we are all beginning the dialogue
in terms of the athletics specific legacy. Having not delivered
the championships we are now, obviously, committed to trying to
deliver significant investment into athletics, and clearly a lot
of the funders that hold Lottery money want to see increased investment
in grass roots sport, and in identifying talent and nurturing
that talent. The majority of international events actually are
quite fundable, and the UK supports, as Sir Rodney said, in excess
of 30 major events: the World Indoor Championships are coming
to Birmingham, that is affordable; the World Half-Marathon went
to Bristol, that is affordable. There are only a small number
of major projects which require major capital investments that
cause the problems. The Commonwealth Games are going ahead and
we have to make that work well for our international credibility.
That is desperately important. However, for those major, major
events and those major, major capital projects, we really do need
to look hard in terms of whether it is what we want to spend money
on, or whether actually we are ten years too early. Clearly, I
think, we can deliver both. If we are going to deliver both, we
cannot either rely on the Lottery nor governing bodies to drive
it forward, the drivers of it must be government and the rest
of us then are very supportive, but driven by government.
170. I think it is important to try to learn
the lessons of this sorry saga, and you made it quite clear in
your written evidence and your oral evidence how damaging this
has been, particularly to athletics in this country and, probably,
our whole sporting image. You are affiliated to the IAAF, you
are responsible for making the bids, so you are right at the centre
of the process so are probably in the best place to try and spot
faults and flaws in the system. Could you elaborate a little on
(Mr Moorcroft) We have talked a lot about restructuring
British sport. There are a lot of good things in British sport
and a lot of great organisations that have done a tremendous amount
of work in developing sport. We have actually achieved a lot as
a nation, and Sydney illustrated that at the elite level. You
probably would not, however, create the system we have got for
sport in this countryor, indeed, athletics in this countryif
you started again. It is an opportunity now, and often out of
adversity it is the best catalyst for change. Unfortunately we
found that in athletics through bankruptcy. So it could be a catalyst
for change. In Paris, with Sir Rodney there, the Government there
through Chris Smith, UK Sport, Sport England and others in attendance,
we presented a united front to the IAAF and said "Please
trust in Britain. Bring the World Athletics Championships to London."
Then we came back and became fairly fragmented and polarised.
I think that is the worst element of sport in this country. It
is not about individual relationships, or even the relationship
between one body and another, but as a whole we just do not work
as well together as we should. The structures create a greater
bureaucracy and end up being more damaging. In terms of aims and
objectives I think we are all pretty clear; we all subscribe to
the same aims, to the outcomes that we would all like to see through
Lottery funding, but we get bogged down in the process. I think
this has illustrated it, unfortunately, at the extreme.
171. Nothing concentrates the mind like a little
dose of bankruptcy?
(Mr Moorcroft) Not to be recommended at all.
172. What concerns me about what you are saying
and what is in your written evidence, as a relative newcomer to
this Committee and this debate, is the fact that there has been
no fundamental discussion in this country about the direction
we want to take in relation to international events. You say it
could have happened ten years ago, but the fact it is has not
and here we are with a string of disasters on our hands which
reflect very badly on the country and on sport in this country.
Yet this debate still does not appear to have started and we still
have no focus. That is what you seem to be saying.
(Mr Moorcroft) I do, but I do not think we should
be saying it is all of British sport or all of British events.
There are events that are happeningsignificant world eventsin
a fundable way and supported by partnership funding. That is great.
It is the biggies that we are not good at. I think the big strategic
decisions that affect beyond one statutory body or one governing
body are the bit we do not do as well as we should. I think that
is where the biggest improvement can come.
173. Just one final question, Chairman. You
say in your written evidence that there should be a minister for
special events, and you support the previous conclusions of this
Committee. You heard Sir Rodney Walker's evidence that a body
already exists, and it seems that they did not play much of a
part in this process from the evidence that he and his chief executive
gave. So we already have a body but still we do not have a focus.
Do you see it as purely a political process or can we build on
what we have got?
(Mr Moorcroft) There are a number of bodies that can
do it, and UK Sport certainly are in a position to take the lead
role there. Sir Rodney is better placed than me, but I think the
bit that is probably missing is the direct government involvement.
The attraction of a minister for eventsand presumably that
minister being either a Cabinet Minister or having direct access
to Cabinetis that you get buy-in from day one. That is
the bit that is missing. My assumption is that the Sydney Olympic
Games would not have been successful without government, not just
backing, but government leading. As Patrick Carter has said, Sydney
has raised the stakes. They also recognise that major events cannot
be successful without government taking the lead.
174. Can I ask one very specific question? In
Patrick Carter's report there is an extensive bit which says that
the timing of athletic events needs to be in the evening, and
that that is probably inevitable in any London venue because you
are going to have everybody competing for public transport with
commuters. Is that true, or is it not?
(Mr Moorcroft) It is true. The World Athletics Championships,
on most days, has two sessions: a morning session and either a
late afternoon or an evening session. There is the advantage that
it is in the summer months when traffic is less congested. Yes,
he did reflect an issue that did not come as a surprise. As Sir
Rodney said, we have all known all along that transport is a problem
in London, wherever you go. Solutions to transport, however, are
probably more in the gift of government than they are in the gift
of UK Athletics, recognising (and, again, this is what has made
it so difficult for current ministers) that Railtrack and the
Strategic Rail Authority have other priorities and disasters recently
have not helped in trying to solve some of the transport issues.
175. When the decision was made to take athletics
out of Wembley, do you think Wembley could have delivered an athletics
solution for 2005 or not?
(Mr Moorcroft) Yes, I think it could have delivered.
We will never know whether the Wembley project that was envisaged
then at that cost and with that requirement for private financing
would have gone ahead.
176. Do you think that was the right decision
at that point, or not?
(Mr Moorcroft) I am just going to come on to one other
thing. Had Wembley not gone ahead, though, it may well have been
then a requirement for more public money to have gone into Wembley
to deliver the World Athletics Championships, so that could have
been a dilemma. I think it was the right decision, yes.
177. You seem now to be accepting, maybe grudgingly,
the present situation, so do you think that the Government has
made the right decision again now?
(Mr Moorcroft) I think the Government has been decisive,
I think the Government has made the right decision because they
have said that there is too much risk and the way things stand
at the moment they could not give a pull on Exchequer funding
to deliver it, and we accept that decision. Of course it is disappointing
to athletics. What we have also said, and it is something that
matters to us now enormously, is that there is this commitment
to help develop athletics, and we are sympathetic to the dilemma
that both the Secretary of State and the Minister face, and really
supportive of their desire to work with us and Sport England to
try and turn what is an embarrassment into something ultimately
that will be of benefit to athletics, albeit in a different way.
178. Good morning. I am very new to this and
listening to what has been said so far I am, frankly, horrified.
The fragmentation, and the lack of structure and the lack of strategic
thinking is frightening, really. You, Mr Hemery, suggested, I
think, that legacy is actually the most valid way of thinking
our way out of this problem. Please correct me if I am wrong about
this, but now, given where we are, actually considering legacy
as opposed to world events is the way of thinking our way, but
that requires a long-term strategy, it is not a short-term solution,
which requires sustained governmentprobably from a particular
political type (I am not saying which)long-term commitment.
You, Mr Moorcroft, suggested that actually the two could be pulled
off with government support. Frankly, I fail to see how, because
I cannot see, from the fragmentation that has been demonstrated
so farand thankfully it is not personality based it is
actually organisational basedhow you can pull off the two.
I think, from what I have been hearing so far, it is a matter
of rebuilding, restructuring and thinking out, right from our
base considerations, what we want. I would suggest a legacy is
a good foundation, and then you build up towards your world events
when you have got the rest in place. I would like you to comment
on that, not least because I intend to ask the Secretary of State
the same question. The other, allied, thing to that is that who
should be then be responsible? Our first witness, Sir Rodney,
suggests that there was no one charged with the power to drive
through a strategy, if a strategy was developed. So where would
that power lie? Should that be a politician making a decision,
or should it be organisation based?
(Mr Moorcroft) I might have overstated
the fragmentation element, because there are many examples of
sport working very well togetherstatutory bodies, UK Sport,
Sport England, CCPR, BOA, national governing bodies and regional
bodiesto deliver programmes that are excellent and which
are in place at this moment. When 100 per cent of the decision
making process can be within that tightly-knit group it works
quite well, and it is working well in sport in this country. I
think it is the big projects that are the problem. For most it
is appropriate that the relationship between government and sport
is fairly arm's length; that DCMS acts best in a supportive role.
I think there are certain projects and certain events where it
needs to be far more hands-on. I think that has been the dilemma
that we have not been clear about: which bits are arm's length
and which bits are hands-on. Certainly, if the assumption is that,
for instance, the Lottery or one body can be the 100 per cent
funders of an event of this magnitude, it creates more problems
than it solves. You would not necessarily create the structure
we have got in this country if we started again, but I need to
state that a lot of things are working very, very well.
(Mr Hemery) I would love to see sport have a sports
minister actually at Cabinet level. If sport can actually deliver
for the whole human being in its development, I do not see why
sport should not have the clout at that level.
179. Can I just ask you how you would go forward?
Basically, you have just repeated what you have already said to
me, you did not address what I actually asked. How would you go
forward? Where would the power be located? How do you pull these
fragmented bits together?
(Mr Moorcroft) Certain projects, and I think we can
be pretty clearCommonwealth Games, World Athletics Championships,
Olympic Games, World Cup football and things like the national
stadiumhave to be led by government. Policy says that government
will lead those. You then are far clearer in terms of where the
strategy for other things lies, and where that is managed and
delivered. At the moment it is fairly ambiguous. Having said that,
the recent government reform of sport in this country has charged
the governing bodies and the statutory bodies to get together
and to look at issues like one plan for the sport, looking at
issues like devolved responsibility to governing bodies to manage
their own financial affairs, to manage their own funding, to move
away from governing bodies chasing Sport England initiatives and
get governing bodies to be more in control of their own destiny.
So I actually think things are moving in the right direction.
I think we have got to speed up that process of reform, but it
Chairman: We have gone beyond the period
allotted to these witnesses. The problem about this is that we
have so many questions to put to witnesses but not enough time.
Thank you very much.