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
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence