Hoey tipped for Cabinet role
Alan Hubbard says the Wembley farce may give sport louder voice
Sunday 26 December 1999
The disappointing performance of Hoey's boss, Chris Smith, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, in the Wembley affair - he has been savaged in parliament by his Conservative opposite number, Peter Ainsworth, and widely criticised by leading sports administrators - has underlined the need to have a Cabinet voice which speaks up for sport. Smith is a nice man but his naivety in sports matters has been brutally exposed. He has always been more comfortable with grand opera than Grandstand and found himself out of his depth in the shark-infested waters of sport. Some sports leaders are particularly angry that Smith now says it is impossible to buoild a stadium to accomodate satisfactorily football and athletics. "In that case we must be the only country which can't," said one. "Perhaps he should visit the Olympic stadium in Rome to see how it is done."
Smith faces a further roasting next month when a parliamentary select committee conducts an inquiry into the five-year farce which has culminated with athletics, Britain's most successful sport, being booted out despite an original brief which made the grant conditional on both athletics and a prospective Olympics being incorporated into the pounds 475m project. The former Sports Minister Tony Banks and Sport England chiefs Derek Casey and Trevor Brooking, all involved in the original negotiations, also face censure.
Smith is unlikely to be jettisoned but I believe he will be told to stick to fine arts and Figaro and relieved of his sports overlordship, with the increasingly impressive Hoey given full ministerial responsibility and Cabinet status. This would bring Britain into line with most other major sports-playing nations, from France to Australia. Opposition leader William Hague, prompted by his Olympian aide Sebastian Coe, has already decided to give sport Cabinet ranking should the Tories be returned to office. "I sit at a distance open-mouthed at the incompetence of it all," says Coe. "It has been shambolic."
Indeed it has, but worse may follow if, as is widely believed in sport, hopes of staging the world athletics championships in 2005 are dashed. Plans to convert Twickenham are unlikely to be confirmed - if at all - before the bid deadline next month.
With any Olympic bid also wrecked and the prospects of hosting the 2006 World Cup fading, Wembley could end up with three own goals in its net.
Inside Lines, page 23
Latest in Sport
Chelsea injury news: Cesc Fabregas and Branislav Ivanovic could join Diego Costa on the sidelines for crucial Manchester City clash
Australian Open 2015: Thanks to Amelie Mauresmo, it's no longer Andy Murray against the world
Fantasy Premier League: Invest in Arsenal to climb the ranks in Gameweek 23
Manchester United sign former Manchester City prospect Sadiq El Fitouri on advice from Phil Neville and Paul Scholes
Chelsea vs Manchester City: Manuel Pellegrini pours scorn on anti-Chelsea 'campaign' but refuses to discuss Jose Mourinho's 'Pellegrino' slight
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...
£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...