Carter advises Government to stay out of big-event bids

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The Independent Online

Patrick Carter, who produced a scathing report into the viability of the scheme to build a new national athletics stadium in north London to stage the 2005 World Championships, told MPs yesterday that the Government should play no part in efforts to attract future international sports events.

The millionaire troubleshooter was making his first public appearance since being appointed to investigate both the Picketts Lock athletics project and plans for a new national football stadium at Wembley.

After receiving Carter's report on Picketts Lock, the Government withdrew its support for the scheme and suggested instead that Sheffield could stage the World Championships, using existing facilities.

Appearing before the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, Carter appeared to take a sideswipe at the Government's handling of both the Picketts Lock and Wembley projects. He called for a review of British efforts to host international events.

"We have to establish a new major event group or agency and make sure that has the responsibility for deciding whether or not a particular event is viable," Carter said. "What has been discovered is that, to date, the system has not been good enough and there has been a lack of communication."

Of the bid process, he said: "What seems to happen at the moment is that we start off, don't cost them properly, interest develops, the nation gets embarrassed and the Government pays, or chooses not to pay."

Carter said that previous bids had not been properly costed. But he admitted that the experience of other countries demonstrated that public money would almost inevitably have to be used to build big stadiums. He said the original case for Picketts Lock had looked "quite sensible", but he continued: "The problem was as you got down into the detail. The Picketts Lock development could never have gone forward without some form of public money. The main reason we were not in favour of it was that in terms of infrastructure and transport, the site was not good.

"When the original decision was made to take athletics out of the plan for Wembley, there was a search for a new London location. Picketts Lock was possibly the best of a bad bunch – it was the least worst."

Wembley yesterday ruled out suggestions that its stadium plans could be revamped to include track and field in an attempt to keep the 2005 championships in the capital. MPs were told that there was not enough time to carry out the necessary changes.

Carter cast doubt over whether the International Association of Athletics Federations, which had awarded the games to London rather than to the United Kingdom, would accept the Government's case for a switch of venue to Sheffield.

Carter will produce his long-awaited report into the siting of a new national football stadium later this month. He refused yesterday to be drawn on its contents.