Casey resigns as Caborn looks to the future

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The Independent Online

Richard Caborn, the new Sports Minister, said yesterday that he intends to overhaul the "sloppy" structure of English sport by appointing a "strategic thinker" to take over as the chief executive of Sport England. Derek Casey resigned from the post yesterday as Caborn announced that he wants to devolve some of Sport England's responsibilities to the regions.

The administrative body, formerly the Sports Council, is responsible for spending around £300m a year, much of it Lottery money, on everything from grass-roots sports to funding for élite athletes and major projects such as a new national stadium. Caborn wants a more hands-on role in Sport England's activities and to develop a long-term strategy increasing the emphasis on youth sport.

Casey resigned from his £80,000-a-year post following a meeting with Caborn, who will offer a much higher salary to Casey's successor in a bid to attract someone of "the very highest quality".

There has been bad feeling between Sport England and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport for the last couple of years due to the Wembley Stadium fiasco, a project which originated with and was to be part-funded by Sport England. But it is because of the shake-up of the organisation rather than Wembley that Casey, who had been expected to leave his post in a year anyway, stepped down.

"It [the current Sport England set-up] is a sloppy system where people do not know what they are supposed to be delivering," Caborn said. "When they are spending more than a quarter of a billion pounds a year on sport there should be a way of measuring what they are delivering.

"We want to make sure that the money is used properly. I have the greatest respect for Derek Casey, who has done a lot for sport, but he acknowledges he has not got the skills required for the new job.

"We will try to get the very best, someone who is a strategic thinker with vision who can develop a long-term strategy.

"We have to look at our structure, we have to modernise," Caborn said. "We have no strategy. In terms of facilities I want to be looking at forward planning rather than building facilities just for a specific event."