Football: Wembley switch leaves charities no richer

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The Independent Online
NO INCREASE in the funds provided for charity will be generated from tomorrow's match, despite the transfer of Wembley from a private company to the joint control of the Football Association and the English National Stadium Trust (ENST).

In the past Wembley, a company for whom charity always began at home, took about one-third of the gate money, thus restricting the FA, once competitors' and other expenses have been met, to donating around pounds 0.5m to various charities. It had been hoped that the change in ownership, effected in January, would enable that sum to be closer to pounds 1m.

However, under the terms of the agreement, the English National Stadium Development Company (ENSDC), which operates the stadium for the FA and ENST, is forbidden to pass money to the FA. This is because the purchase was funded by a pounds 120m grant from the National Lottery. The stadium was then sold to the FA, which owns ENSDC, for a nominal sum but with the condition that any operating profit be used to pay off the pounds 335m debt incurred during the redevelopment rather than be passed on to the FA, even if it would then go to charity. Bob Stubbs, the chief executive of ENSDC, confirmed yesterday that the hosting contract was on the same basis as before the handover and that any surplus monies would have to stay within the stadium company until the debt had been cleared.

Incidentally, Manchester United's sixth Charity Shield match in seven years means their fans have paid about pounds 1.5m to charity since 1993: not quite as much as Roy Keane wants to be paid a year.

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