Funding essential says Caborn

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The Independent Online

Richard Caborn, the new Sports Minister, believes it is "crazy" for single cities to bear the financial burden of staging major sports events. The Sheffield MP thinks there should be more central funding for events such as the Commonwealth Games, which is being held in Manchester next year at a cost of £211m.

His views will also affect a possible bid by London for the 2012 Olympics. If the Government promised to underwrite the Games, it would vastly increase the chances of a bid.

Caborn insists he has learned painful lessons from the staging of the World Student Games in Sheffield in 1991, which left the city with huge debts it is still paying off.

The 57-year-old former steelworks shop steward said: "I understand that Manchester has problems with the Commonwealth Games and we have to look at whether it is fair to land a city with that kind of responsibility.

"It is crazy to put the pressure on one city for a national event like that. We have to look at it in terms of central funding. The stadiums and the games are a national asset and we have to look at some way of spreading the burden.

"My role in the World Student Games has taught me a lot about the reality of making bids like Sheffield did. A lot of mistakes were made but we have to learn from them and we have done that."

One of Caborn's first responsibilities will be to tackle the fiasco over Wembley stadium. Plans for a new national stadium have been put on hold since the Football Association announced last month they would not underwrite the cost of the project.

Caborn, a Sheffield United fan, would not be drawn on the subject but said: "We will deal with that problem when it comes across my desk.

"Obviously I'm not fully up to speed with everything yet, I only knew for sure I was getting the job at the weekend. What I do know is that we, as a nation, have not been able to maximise on the country's massive love for and involvement in sport."