FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION MUST PLAY FAIR TO THE COMMUNITY ON ANY STADIUM DEAL
England’s start in the World Cup has given a huge lift across the country. We have seen England play with skill and confidence and we have to give a lot of credit to the Football Association for finally putting the right team both on the field and in the management team.
There is another field of play however where the FA cannot afford to score an own goal. That is the future of Wembley Stadium. Wembley National Stadium is an International icon vital not only for Brent and London, but also for England and the United Kingdom.
It is up for sale. £161m of public money, through Sport England (£120m), the Department of Culture Media and Sport (£20m) and London Development Agency (£21m), were invested to secure the redevelopment of the stadium. As the MP for Brent North I was extensively involved in the initial difficult negotiations and agreements relating to the Wembley redevelopment. My earlier contributions in parliament going back 20 years to March 1998 can be viewed here: https://www.theyworkforyou.com/search/?q=Wembley+stadium+&pid=10220&p=2
A key part of the deal, to safeguard the £161M of public monies provided for the construction of the stadium, was the funding of local Brent sports and community projects through a one per cent share of the turnover from the stadium. That money goes to the Wembley National Stadium Trust (WNST) which in 2017 gave £213,516 to projects across the country. Whatever the future of the stadium I am fighting to make sure the local community retains the local benefits arising from Wembley Stadium. It is only fair that the stadium gives back something as a way of “repaying the debt for the inconvenience caused to local residents on Event Days”. The WNST is boosting sports and community facilities at a critical time for public health where community sports provision and youth services have been whittled away by government cuts to local authorities The breadth of sporting activities provided by Wembley National Stadium Trust includes six projects with a distinct focus on disability or mental ill health and three programmes specifically targeted at getting more girls and young women to play sport. They also fund work with young offenders, refugees and asylum seekers and older people working their way back to fitness.
These are superb projects around fitness, football and inclusion that currently are set to benefit local people for 50 years. No sale of the Stadium should be allowed to jeopardise that.
That is why I have written to the Secretary of State to say that any sale has to be conditional on the continued flow of revenue to the Trust.
(Barry’s letter to the Secretary of State can be viewed here)