Letter, 30 August 2001, from the Chairman
of Sport England to the Secretary of State for Culture Media and
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 grantwe
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 paymentit
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 Structurea 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.
Implementationthere 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.