Wednesday November 21, 2007
Sir Clive Woodward’s involvement in London 2012 continues to attract suspicion from within Olympic governing bodies despite the peace deal between UK Sport and the British Olympic Association announced this month.
Athletics and cycling both used a hearing of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport select committee in parliament yesterday to express doubts about what the Rugby World Cup-winning coach could bring to their sports that they did not already have. Woodward has developed a £150,000-a-year multi-coach training programme for athletes but the major sports appear to require some convincing of its worth.
“At this time we don’t see anything that he has to offer cycling that we are not already getting from UK Sport, and UK Sport would be in serious difficulties if he could offer anything they are not,” said Chris Boardman, the former Olympic cycling champion.
The UK Athletics chairman, Ed Warner, was also sceptical. “There are those who would say there are no new ideas in the Woodward programme,” he said. “So far he has had no impact on athletics but he might do, provided that we can dictate what we can use to improve our chances. There has been a risk that we get caught up in the political backlash of two organisations [UK Sport and the BOA] locking horns over their rival programmes.”
Debate over 2012 legacy
The role of Sport England in delivering the sporting legacy of the 2012 Olympic Games remains a major concern to MPs and sports’ governing bodies. The question was repeatedly raised at yesterday’s select committee hearing, with all the sports agreeing that Sport England should drive the legacy commitment but unclear as to its plans.
The quango is currently in negotiations with the government over its funding package from 2009 to 2011 but it remains to be seen whether its primary role going forward will be mass participation to encourage a health and fitness agenda or promoting sport.
Serious concerns remain at UK Sport about how the government will raise £100m from the private sector to complete its total pre-London 2012 funding package of £600m. UK Sport’s chair, Sue Campbell, told the select committee yesterday that she could not confidently predict that the money would be raised.
The DCMS is in the process of hiring an agency to help raise the cash but sponsorship has already been ruled out as an option.
England look to first base
England have narrowed their search for potential Euro 2008 base camps down to two or three options should they qualify for the tournament by avoiding defeat against Croatia at Wembley tonight.
The favoured option is understood to be a base in Switzerland close to one of the major cities, with a site on Lac Leman, near Geneva, among the possibilities.
With two of the Euro 2008 groups playing all their matches in Austria, however, they will wait until the draw on December 2 before allowing England’s head coach, Steve McClaren, to have the final say.
Refreshingly the Football Association has no intention of repeating the World Cup 2006 mistake of selecting a remote base that cuts the players off from media, supporters and, in some cases, reality.
Dein under fire
The former Arsenal vice chairman David Dein, below, clashed with Andy Walsh, chairman of the Independent Manchester United Supporters’ Association, at yesterday’s Future of Football conference in London over the issue of supporter representation on club boards.
Dein, who is fronting the Uzbek billionaire Alisher Usmanov’s attempts to take control of Arsenal, said he had never met a board member who was not a fan.
Walsh also spoke out against foreign ownership but found no one in the audience of financiers and football club employees to support his view.
The flood of foreign cash into the English game shows no sign of slowing, meanwhile, with the Dubai International Capital group, which tried and failed to buy Liverpool, understood to be still eyeing investment opportunities in the Premier League.
It was curious timing yesterday for the launch of the Legacy Trust, a new charitable body whose task is to fund “the sporting and cultural legacy of the 2012 Olympics”.
Some 19 months after Tessa Jowell first announced it, the official launch event started just as officials from UK Sport and leading governing bodies were being grilled in parliament on issues including the sporting legacy of London 2012.
A spokeswoman for the DCMS said the clash was entirely coincidental.