The Last Word: London's legacy is a big fat myth

Furore over tickets and a British football team hides harsh truths of funding cuts and national inequality

Please spare us the middle-class whinges about the so-called "Olympic ticket farce". Oh dear, so you wanted to watch Usain Bolt win the 100 metres and will instead have to watch Uzbekistan go through to the second round of the water polo. Welcome to the world of the modern sports fan. Where the stuff on the bottom of shoes is ranked higher in the pecking order.

Of course, the Locog ticketing scheme was a shambles. This is Britain, it was never going to be anything but. Yet even if it had run as smoothly as the German rail system there would have been outrage. Not enough of the good tickets to satisfy demand. It's as straightforward as that. Particularly when one factors in all the "comps" and "sponsors guests" badges the IOC – Fifa dressed in a vicar's outfit – insist on handing out.

That is the way professional sport is nowadays and if you need any confirmation, just watch the next Andy Murray match on Centre Court and spot the "faces" in the crowd. True tennis fans, these B-listers. Right down to the 10 per cent they pay their agent who happens to have wonderful contacts in the sports industry.

Still, at least the charade has alerted a few people to the great Olympic sham, in which very little is at it seems and even less is as it was promised. The Olympics is essentially a money-making operation which so cynically cashesin on dreams and ideals and all that baloney of sport unifying the world. It can't even unify the United Kingdom to send out a football team, as the blazers protect their comfy existences and as these great patriots become agitated about a controversy which is essentially irrelevant.

Great Britain hasn't sent a team to the Olympics in 40 years and until the build-up to this Games there has been no row. That's because Olympic football doesn't mean anything to Great Britain. So why is it suddenly occupying our back pages? Simply because it's being played in our country? That's a bit like only entering the World Cup when it's taking place in our country. It's pathetic.

Not nearly as pathetic, however, as the attention continuing to be distracted from the real scandal of London 2012 – the legacy.

Ah, the "L" word, which played such a huge role in landing the Games six years ago and which has enjoyed an ever-diminishing bit-part ever since. How much of London 2012's total funding is being allocated, as the promotional bumf said, to "inspire a new sporting generation to play sport"? One and a half per cent. Not a great amount for a cornerstone, is it? In fact, it represents the tiniest piece of grouting on this most sickening of facades. And the deeper one digs, the more reprehensible it becomes.

Last week, as the Scots were being called all sorts of names for not throwing their weight behind the GB football team ("traitors" being the most laughable), The Scotsman published an article which revealed the extent of the 2012 shame. Some £150m of Scotland's National Lottery money is being diverted into staging the Olympics, but Scotland – along with Wales and Northern Ireland – is being excluded from the Olympics' flagship legacy programme. It's the sort of disgrace which should attract headlines, but how can it compete against crashing websites or Gareth Bale?

Announced with predictable pomp last year by Lord Coe (title: Locog chairman, salary: £360,000 pa, plus £500-£1,000 for every meeting he attends), the Places People Play initiative will pump £135m into grassroots sports over the next four years. Now, overlooking for the moment that the Comprehensive Spending Review cut £160m from school sport and that some of the funding will be used to protect sports fields which shouldn't be sold anyway, the £135m will be much welcomed. In England.

Not in Scotland, or Wales or Northern Ireland, which have all been forced to contribute heavily to staging the Games, but shan't receive a penny of the PPP funding. And their youngsters will not be able to enter the programme's free ballot for Olympic tickets either. So much for the "British" Olympics, so much for the legacy. In truth, £135m is peanuts anyway and it will not begin to address the shortfall in funding caused by the redirection of monies into the staging of this big fat myth.

But still, the politicians will look good as they sit in the best seats in the house, sounding so profound as they talk about Britain selling itself to the world. No doubt, Britain's sold itself. Right down the Swanee.

Wimbledon's late-night action raises the roof

Certain sportswriters with coveted restaurant bookings may not agree, but how warming it was at last to see some investment in British tennis paying dividends. Friday night's encounter between Andy Murray and the bald bloke with the sweat-band went on until 9.50pm and in doing so not only saved us from EastEnders but also saved Wimbledon from another dreary washout.

Two years on and we all have to agree that the Centre Court's retractable roof is a marvel and an absolute snip at the reported £80m – which, to my crude calculations, is the same as it costs the LTA over a three-year period to get one male and no females into the third round.

The TV execs were undoubtedly pleased with their evening's entertainment and unlike in other events (the Six Nations, for one) their delight did not directly result in the woe of the travelling fan. After all, it is a damn sight easier to get across London at 10pm than it is as 7pm.

So is this the start of night tennis at Wimbledon? Will Murray's late-night magic herald a floodlit new era? No, the All England Club would never allow that. Half of their members need tucking up by 9pm, with a cup of cocoa and a dab of albas. But the occasional all-nighter will remain a blessed treat, particularly for those of us old enough (ie: five or more) who remember the long bouts of grey misery. No more Virginia Wade re-runs. No more Sir Cliff. Bliss.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness