Moorcroft hails £40m 'reward for patience'

British Athletics last night received a £40m consolation prize for missing out on the 2005 World Championships.

Seven months after the Government's eleventh hour announcement that it would not be funding a new stadium at Picketts Lock, north London – a decision which effectively cost Britain the chance to host the biennial championships – the domestic sport has received a sweetener of the exact size it had hoped for.

The total pledged from Sport England's Lottery Fund yesterday represents the largest chunk of money ever spent in one go on athletics, and will help to regenerate the sport from schools level right the way up to élite performance.

"It was and will always remain disappointing that we were not able to host the World Championships, but this is the opportunity of a level of investment that wouldn't have existed were it not for those special circumstances," said the UK Athletics' chief executive Dave Moorcroft yesterday.

"Our patience has been rewarded, and we can now turn what has been a disappointing period into one which will be of huge benefit to the sport long-term."

Although the Picketts Lock site in Lee Valley Park will not now get a 40,000-seater stadium, a total of at least £7m, with likely additional Government funding of up to £4m, will be devoted to creating London's premier high-performance centre there, including indoor and outdoor tracks. A further £5m will fund the current facility at Crystal Palace and a new site in north-west London. Further funding of £5m will be devoted to refurbishing tracks around the country in co-operation with local authorities.

The remaining £20m of the award will be spent on creating a new range of initiatives in schools and clubs, new competitions, full-time coaches and medical facilities.

In broad terms, the figure of £40m was arrived at by looking at the figure of £60m which the Lottery Fund were prepared to set aside for building a new stadium at Picketts Lock, a figure which would have included the £20m that had been given to Wembley before plans to include athletics facilities were abandoned. Now that plans to make Wembley capable of hosting athletics have been revived, however, that sum looks like staying with the national stadium project.

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