London hopes TV rights value can swing bid


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The Independent Online

The bargaining chips were being put on the table in Monte Carlo yesterday. This afternoon the 27 council members of the International Association of Athletics Federations convene in Monaco to decide the host city for the 2017 World Championships.

On the table will be an offer of £5m from Doha to cover prize money. Staked against that will not be hard cash from London but hard opinion. According to Niels de Vos, the chief executive of UK Athletics, the value of broadcasting rights would be more than £6m higher if the championships are staged in Europe than if they were awarded to the Middle East for the first time.

"The IAAF's finances are fairly robust but effectively 90 per cent of their income comes from putting on the world championships," De Vos said. "In broadcast terms, being able to hit 8pm in central Europe for the main session works very well.

"We would also not be going head-to-head with football, which is one of the challenges of doing it outside the traditional dates as Doha are proposing. Talking to specialists in the market-place the financial difference of income from broadcast rights between a London bid and a Middle-Eastern bid is upwards of US$10m [£6.3m]."

De Vos said he had been assured by sponsors of London's value. "On the sponsorship front the London market-place is seen as very valuable, and Adidas, who are huge contributors to the sport have been very clear to me that London and Europe is a more valuable marketplace," he continued.

"Doha have a very strong bid, there is no doubt about that. We both have very strong technical bids and you have to find points of difference. The feedback I am getting is that commercially we are seen as the better option."

The chairman of Doha's bid, Sheikh Saoud Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, said yesterday that the Qatari capital had offered to pay the prize money and told the IAAF to spend it as they see fit. "The idea is that the prize money from the IAAF could be used for the future development of athletes," he said.

The London bid will be led by Lord Coe, who will have the backing of fellow Olympic gold medallist Denise Lewis and world junior 100m champion Jodie Williams.