Olympic Stadium ripoff ‘hammers’ charities into the turf

The extent to which West Ham United and its owners are set to profit from the Olympic Stadium was revealed this week when the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) was forced to publish, in full, the terms of the 99 year lease. However, the stadium was also effectively supported by tens of thousands of Britain’s charities, which had lottery funding siphoned away to support the Games.

Under what has been described as the ‘business deal of the century’, West Ham United will pay LLDC just £2.5m per year to use the stadium – despite the club having an annual income of over £115m.

Organisations such as the Taxpayers’ Alliance have criticised the use of tax revenues to finance the deal – but the National Lottery also contributed massively to the London Olympics. The construction of the stadium and other venues was only made possible after the Labour government, facing a massive shortfall in funding for the Games in 2007, raided an additional £425 million from the Big Lottery Fund, which makes grants to thousands of small charities and community groups around the country.

At the time, the government made a commitment to repay the money after the Olympics by selling off Olympics assets. Yet nearly four years on from 2012 this has still not taken place, with government ministers repeatedly holding to the line that refunds may take until 2030. This commitment has been reaffirmed by successive governments, however no firm deadline has ever been set. The lease terms for the Olympic Stadium, one of the most valuable assets on the park, do little to inspire hope that Government will live up to its commitment to reimburse charitable causes for the sacrifice they made for London 2012.

This is why the Big Lottery Refund campaign, run by the charity Directory of Social Change, has repeatedly called on the government to take on the role of creditor in the Olympics assets deal by repaying the Big Lottery Fund now, against future income from the sale of assets. The campaign says this will ensure the 10,000 charities that have lost much needed funding since the raid of 2007 will be able to support some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Commenting on the recent revelations, Jay Kennedy, Director of Policy and Research at the Directory of Social Change, said ‘recently revealed taxpayer subsidies for the future tenants of the Olympic Stadium are just the tip of the iceberg – it’s far worse than that. Hundreds of millions in lottery good causes cash was raided from charities and plowed into the London Games – to support key infrastructure like the stadium.’

‘It’s a financial sleight-of-hand that Mossack Fonseca could hardly have conceived. Money that should have funded tens of thousands of charitable causes across the UK has wound up subsidising the profits of wealthy Premier League club owners and the salaries of multi-millionaire players. You could even say that the Big Lottery Fund deserves the naming rights for the new stadium – after all over the next 99 years West Ham will pay back less to the LLDC than the amount of lottery cash that was taken from Big for the Olympics. Government needs to act now to put an end to this complete and utter travesty – and pay £425 million back to the Big Lottery Fund immediately.’

MK Dons bosses Winkelman and Robinson join Iain Stewart MP at opening of new pitch

MK Dons Chairman Pete Winkelman and Manager Karl Robinson joined Iain Stewart, MP for Milton Keynes South and Cllr Keith Mclean, Mayor of Milton Keynes, at Sir Herbert Leon Academy recently (Friday 18 March 2016), to officially open their new £526,540 third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP).

The project was made possible thanks to a £369,340 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation, providing grants towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities, with the grant enabling the school to refurbish and extend an old sand-dressed pitch to create a new 106m x 70m, floodlit, 3G AGP.

MK Dons Sport and Education Trust (MK Dons SET) will use the new pitch, as well as a number of local grassroots clubs including Milton Keynes City FC, MK Wanderers FC, and the Berks & Bucks FA. MK Dons SET will use the site for a number of community outreach programmes, including holiday camps, and aim to deliver a new Community Development Centre for underrepresented groups on the surface.

The Football Foundation worked alongside the Berks & Bucks FA and Sir Herbert Leon Academy to produce a five-year Football Development Plan (FDP), which is a vision for how football will be delivered at the site with emphasis on increasing participation.

This plan forecasts a 64% increase in female participation, through the development of new female teams. The facility will also be the home site for Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire disability league games, which supports the MK Dons’ own disability provision. There is also predicted growth of 16 teams from MK City FC and & MK Wanderers FC.

The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund is funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England. It is delivered by the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 14,000 grants worth more than £546m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £773m – over £1.3bn of investment into the grassroots game.

Since 2000 the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 244 grants worth £9.5m towards grassroots sports projects across the whole of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

By providing more high-quality facilities, coupled with coaching at the appropriate age group, the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund aims to improve the experience for regular players as well as attracting new players to the game.

Many of the new state-of-the-art facilities will serve to strengthen the connection between professional football clubs and their local communities, particularly in the most deprived areas of the country, through the professional clubs’ community trusts’ outreach work.

Iain Stewart, MP for Milton Keynes South, said: “The new pitch at Sir Herbert Leon Academy will have a significant impact on pupils’ participation levels, encouraging many young people to take part in sport. Home-grown talent develop skills on community pitches like this, making these facilities vital to our national game.

“It is fantastic that the school can use and benefit from the new pitch, thanks to the commitment and funding from the Government’s partnership with the Premier League and The FA, through the Football Foundation. I wish the school all the best for the future.”

MK Dons Chairman, Pete Winkelman, said: “I was really pleased to attend the official opening of Sir Herbert Leon Academy’s new 3G pitch. The facility will enable the MK Dons SET to deliver vital community outreach work, linking the grassroots game to a professional club.

“The link between pro-clubs and their communities is something the Football Foundation are improving thanks to their commitment to developing grassroots football facilities across the country. This new pitch may also inspire young people at the school and from partner clubs, MK City FC and MK Wanderers FC, to pursue a career in football, creating quality home-grown talent in the process.”

Dr Jo Trevenna, Head of School at Sir Herbert Leon Academy, said: “This new 3G pitch will provide our students and the local community with access to the very best facilities. The financial support gained from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund means that we are well placed to promote participation, raise expectations and improve grassroots sport.

“We would like to thank local MP, Iain Stewart, MK Dons Chairman, Pete Winkelman, and MK Dons Manager, Karl Robinson, for officially opening the facility. The Academy has a close relationship with MK Dons and the first team has already trained on the 3G pitch, further proving that it is top class facility.”

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “I am delighted that a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund has enabled Sir Herbert Leon Academy to upgrade to a new 3G football pitch. This development will provide a real boost to sport in the local area. Thanks for go to Iain, Karl and Pete for taking time out to officially open it.

“Since 2000, the Football Foundation has supported grassroots projects worth more than £1.3bn, investing into areas where the need is greatest and where it will have the biggest impact in terms of getting more people playing football and a wide range of other sports.

“With this funding, provided by the Premier League, The FA and the Government, through Sport England, we are helping to improve community sports facilities across the country and thereby the playing experience of those who take part. This latest project in Bletchley is the latest addition to the inventory of modern community sports sites we are developing that cater for the needs of local people who want to play sport purely for the love if it and to stay healthy.”

2016 set to be the best year ever for the superyacht industry

Key players in the superyacht industry including superyacht brokers and shipyards have revealed a positive start to 2016 with strong sales, continued growth and optimism.

Burgess Yachts confirmed that greater revenue had been achieved in 2015, compared to 2014, Rupert Nelson, sales director explained, “This is a good sign for the overall market, and another positive factor is that in some cases we’re seeing as much as a 12-month reduction in the sales cycle. This year is looking very strong out of the blocks.”

A number of superyacht shipyards revealed strong starts to 2016 including AMELS, which currently has 10 Limited Editions superyachts and five DAMEN Yacht Support vessels in build at its facilities, as of the end of February 2016. Fellow shipyard Heesen Yachts currently has 10 superyachts under construction, ranging from 47m to 70m in length.

Sara Gioanala from Heesen Yachts said, “2016 is going to be a very exciting year for us as we’re going to launch the largest project to date, Kometa, a 70m superyacht.”

According to figures from Boat International, superyacht sales increased by 40% between 2014 and 2015.

In the newest edition of its annual Wealth Report, property agent Knight Frank also commented not only on the growth of sales in the superyacht industry, but the perception of yachting among ultra-high-net-worth individuals, “In a world where many UHNWIs are cash rich yet time poor, yachting continues to provide the ultimate sanctuary for privacy and an opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends.”

In line with this growth trend, Yachting Pages Media Group, a specialist in products and services for the superyacht industry has confirmed increased revenue for its print directories and record profit for both its website and delivery service.

Michelle Williams from Yachting Pages confirmed, “More and more marine businesses want to invest in advertising, because they can clearly see return on investment. Captains and crew are spending large amounts of money on supplies and services and they want to be found.

“In recent months we’ve experienced record searches (18,673), page views (93,034) and visits (26,144) online and we forecast increased growth throughout the rest of 2016.  It’s a really healthy market at the moment.”

The US sector in particular is looking to be both a source of success and a target market for 2016. Rupert from Burgess Yachts also attributed the health of the overall market to the strong US dollar, as well as a “sizeable client base of UHNW Americans with a good appetite for superyachting.” When asked about the US market, Sara Gioanala from Heesen Yachts commented, “We are investing a lot in the US market and look forward to the results!”

As well as builds and sales, superyacht shows are seeing a promising start to 2016, with a number of shows reporting record visitors, including Yachts Miami Beach and Boot Dusseldorf. London Boat Show in particular saw a rise in industry revenue and continued growth in the domestic market.

The Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris 2016 : the race has already begun!

Key points:

·         Génération Marateens mobilizes 450 Parisian children

·         The Haribo Marathoon’s, the kids are also invited to the party!

·         Paris Breakfast Run: experience the most beautiful city in the world in a different way


Génération Marateens mobilizes 450 Parisian children

There are many exciting things happening during the first edition of the Marateens as it introduces the world of running to 450 Parisian children from the 11th, 18th and 19th arrondissements of the City of Light. In February and March, the budding 11 and 12-year olds took part in introductory running sessions. In addition to the physical exercises, some workshops focused on the history of the marathon as well as nutrition. On March 30, the 450 young runners from the Génération Marateens will head to the INSEP (National Institute for Sport, Expertise and Performance) for a giant relay race, followed by a conference with guest athletes and a photo opportunity.

Organised by Amaury Sport Organisation with the support of the Leadership of the Youth and Sport Directorate from the Paris mayor’s office, Génération Marateens will come to an end on April 3, the same day as the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris. The 450 children will run the final 200 metres of the course as one, before the finish of the first disabled athletes. They will then have the chance to watch the action in the most popular event on the French sporting calendar, from a grandstand reserved specially for them.

La Haribo Marathoon’s, the kids are also invited to the party!

Created in 2010, the Haribo Marathoon’s is for children aged 5 to 10. The kids participate with mom and dad or on their own as long as they are 7 or older. Unique pre-condition: register and pick up a race number to take starter’s orders.

The Haribo Marathoon’s will be run on a closed and secured course located near the Champ de Mars and the Eiffel Tour. Bonus: at the finish, breakfast will be on offer with a medal. More than 1,000 participants are expected.

Haribo Marathoon’s Key Points

Date: Saturday April 2

Age 5-7: Minis Marathooniens, 1.2km, start 11am

Age 8-10: Petits Marathooniens, 2.2km, start 11:30am

Start: Champ de Mars

Free registration:

Paris Breakfast Run: experience the most beautiful city in the world in a different way

On April 2, the Paris Breakfast Run will bring together more than 4,000 participants from 60 countries with marathon runners joined by joggers and companions, for a warm up jog at an easy pace on a closed to vehicle circulation course between Avenue Foch and Ecole Militaire (Military School). This leisurely outing which concludes at the base of the Eifel Tour encourages runners from around the word to mingle in a friendly atmosphere.

After the Paris Breakfast Run, breakfast will be on offer across from the Eifel Tour. A chance to rid any stress the day before the marathon and tighten the links with the runners that have come from the four corners of the planet.

Paris Breakfast Run Key Points

Date: Saturday April 2

Start: 9am Avenue Foch (metro Victor Hugo or Charles de Gaulle-Etoile)

Finish: Champ de Mars (metro Ecole Militaire).

Distance: 5km

Entry fee: €10

Race T-shirt pick up: Thursday April 1and Friday April 2 at the Salon du Running

Registration : online on A.S.O. Challenges

Britain’s Olympic legacy in tatters as Chancellor flouts another opportunity to repay communities

For the eighth time in his position as Chancellor, George Osborne has failed to produce a national budget which honours the government’s long-outstanding debt to Britain’s communities.

In 2007 the Labour government diverted £425 million from the Big Lottery Fund to help finance the ballooning Olympics budget. Following outrage from charities and many MPs, the government pledged to repay the debt after the Olympics from the sale of Olympics assets – a pledge subsequently reaffirmed by the Coalition.

Government ministers have given piecemeal statements suggesting the Big Lottery Fund might see money returned to it sometime after 2020. However four years after the event, with Rio 2016 just around the corner, this is looking ever more unlikely. Last year, the government leased an Olympic asset to West Ham United Football Club in a highly obscure deal which will see the club enjoy the use of a £700m football stadium for a fraction of the rent paid by other clubs, with many of the running costs paid for by the taxpayer.

The Directory of Social Change (DSC) has led the Big Lottery Refund campaign, supported by over 3800 charities, which aims for an immediate return of the lottery cash.

Jay Kennedy, Director of Policy and Research at DSC said ‘The Big Lottery Fund gets its money from people who buy lottery tickets on the understanding that the small amount of money they are likely to lose will be spent doing good in the community. In 2007 the money was used to pay private contractors to build the Olympic village and now the assets are being given away to private interests as well.’

He went on to say that ‘in the meantime, thousands of charities are losing funding at a time when demand on their services is rapidly increasing and when government funding cuts are leaving people with great uncertainty for the future. An immediate repayment of that money would enable the Big Lottery Fund to make grants to an additional 10,000 charities, improving the lives of approximately eight million people across the UK’.

Kennedy concluded with a call to the Government: ‘George Osborne missed another massive opportunity to redress this wrong, to support vulnerable people and vital causes across the UK, and it need not impact the government balance sheet. In the past his ministers have said they are confident that the money will be eventually paid back, but since the General Election they have said nothing. They should pay back the Big Lottery Fund immediately, and take on the role of creditor for repayment from assets sales. This could help tens of thousands of charities and millions of people during very difficult times.’

Former Canaries boss Nigel Worthington to open new £300,000 sports pavilion in Norfolk

What: Former Norwich City FC Manager, Nigel Worthington, will open Holt Playing Field Association’s upgraded pavilion.
Where: Holt Sports and Social Club, Woodfield Road, Norfolk, NR25 6TX.
When: Saturday 19 March 2016, at 11.15am

Former Norwich City FC Manager, Nigel Worthington, will officially open Holt Playing Field Association’s new changing room pavilion on Saturday 19 March. The project was made possible thanks to a £99,983 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which provides grants towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities. The development also received £50,000 from the Premier League, through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF), the largest funders of non-league football in the country.

Holt Playing Field Association have been able to extend and refurbish the previous pavilion, which were too small for the number of clubs using it. The development includes two changing rooms, an officials’ changing room, a large kitchen, and storage space and spectator toilet facilities.

Holt Playing Field Association worked in partnership with Norfolk County FA to secure the £99,983 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. Since 2000 the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 175 grants worth £7m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £15.7m across the whole of Norfolk.

Other funding is coming from Sport England’s Inspired Facilities Fund, the Environment Protection Agency, North Norfolk District Council, Holt Playing Fields Association and additional fundraising.

Founded in 2000 the Football Foundation is the largest sports charity in the UK funded by the Premier League, The FA and Government, via Sport England. It funds the development of new and refurbished grassroots sports facilities in order to improve the quality and experience of playing sport at the grassroots level. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 14,000 grants worth more than £546m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £773m – over £1.3bn of investment into the grassroots game.

New book tackles the exclusion of British Asians from football

Dan Kilvington

Dan Kilvington

A new book which explores the exclusion of British Asians from football and makes recommendations for achieving equality in the industry has been published by a Leeds Beckett University academic.

In his book, ‘British Asians, Exclusion and the Football Industry’, Dr Dan Kilvington, Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at Leeds Beckett, presents his extensive new research collected from interviews with players, coaches, scouts, managers, fans, and anti-racist organisations and highlights both historical and current reasons for the exclusion of British Asians from football.

Dr Kilvington explained: “I conducted almost 100 interviews with individuals and groups from all spheres of the game over an eight year period. The book explores overt and covert racism, highlights both male and female experiences and discusses the similarities and differences between Asian heritage communities, such as Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi, from across England. It provides a critical overview of equality and inclusion initiatives which aim to increase the numbers of British Asians in the game, in all areas. I also make recommendations for reform pitched at football’s key stakeholders which are believed to help achieve greater equality and inclusion.”

The book, published by Routledge, draws on case studies, one of which centres around Bradford. Dr Kilvington said: “Despite Bradfordian Asians’ passion, enthusiasm and love for football, no one from the South Asian community has managed to maintain a career in the professional game. I carried out in-depth research within Bradford, consulting ex-professionals, former academy players, coaches, scouts, managers and PE teachers.

“What I found was that there is a lack of grass roots opportunities within locales which are densely populated by Asian heritage communities; while the local and national scouting networks tend to overlook such communities and environment, for many reasons.

“My research indicates that more clubs are needed and, therefore, more coaches. With a view to changing this, Leeds Beckett University is funding a Coach Education Masterclass event at Bradford City on Wednesday 13 April which aims to create new coaches and develop the skills of existing grassroots and professional personnel, helping to create football opportunities for the next generation.”

X2 Headphones by Premium Lifestyle Brand Jaybird

Jaybird X2

Jaybird X2

Premium lifestyle brand Jaybird has found that the X2, the second generation of the bestselling sport headphones BlueBuds X, is proving a popular choice with reviewers and customers alike.

X2 includes three sizes of Comply Sport memory foam ear tips, previously sold as an accessory. Other improvements from the original design include upgraded ear fin ergonomics, further refinement of the sound profile, and a new line of colour options to match any style, coated in a durable soft-touch matte finish. The X2 headphones are the smallest and most fashionable sport wireless headphones on the market.

Jaybird developed its own codec for decoding the audio with an enhanced bit rate. The result is crystal clear Bluetooth audio, which rivals leading wired headphones. Jaybird calls the technology Shift™ Premium Bluetooth Audio, enabling X2 to lead the wireless sport category with top-shelf audio performance.

X2’s earphone housing is designed to allow the user to wear the product under-ear, or over-ear with reduced cord length through a cord management clip system, a design that Jaybird calls X-Fit™. Over-ear lifts the cord off the neck and provides the most liberating sports music experience. This has been a huge hit with runners, as they acknowledge Jaybird’s unique innovation around consumer insight. The under-ear wearing style offers users a non-sports looking product for a more traditional everyday use-case. This configuration is ideal for hands-free phone calls.

While making the smallest-in-class Bluetooth headphones, Jaybird also designed and tuned the product to operate using less power resulting in category-leading 8 hours of play time.

Giro Announces Innovative Ski Helmet reinforced by TeXtreme®

Global Leader in the manufacture of protective headwear, Giro Sport Design, recently announced the Avance MIPS, an innovative ski racing helmet that uses TeXtreme® to create a lighter, stiffer, and stronger shell.

“In development of the Avance MIPS ski helmet, TeXtreme® has enabled us to create an ultralight shell that’s tougher, stiffer and stronger than anything Giro has previously offered. Most importantly, TeXtreme® provides impressive high-energy impact management,” says Mattia Berardi, Product Manager of Giro Ski.

TeXtreme® is a unique carbon fiber material that differs from conventional carbon fiber materials due to its proprietary production methods. Its track record of contributing to successful product releases – from companies including Bauer Hockey, Prince Tennis, Cobra Puma Golf, Stiga Table Tennis and Bell Helmets – has proven the real-world performance improvements due to TeXtreme® Technology.

According to Berardi, “The Avance MIPS outer shell is constructed from TeXtreme® carbon fiber fabrics. TeXtreme®’s wide, flat tapes fit tighter together and remain straighter than the round tows found in conventional carbon fiber materials, and thus require a less resin needed to bind the fibers together.”

Giro engineers created the new helmet to deliver improved protection from four major hazard categories common to elite alpine racing: high-energy impact, rotational energies, multi-impact collision, and gate impact. In order to combat the high-energy impacts that racers often experience, a number of innovations were developed and the use of TeXtreme® materials enables a strong shell that allows the helmet to better resist multi-impact crashes and repeated gate impacts.

In addition to the use of TeXtreme® in ski helmets, its innovative technology is applied in Formula 1, NASCAR and America’s Cup racing, as well as in the manufacture of bicycles, golf shafts, tennis racquets, surf boards, rowing shells, skis and snowboards – along with various industrial and advanced aerospace applications.

The Avance MIPS helmet will be available for purchase at authorized Giro retailers in late 2016.

Mavericks steal Copper Box Crown

Surrey Storm fell to their first ever Copper Box Arena defeat on Saturday evening as Hertfordshire Mavericks took a 55-50 win at Netball London Live 2016.

A 6332-strong crowd packed into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park venue to witness a gritty, physical Vitality Netball Superleague clash, and Maverick’s first win in the annual meeting between the two sides.

Feeling confidence after a big win at Manchester Thunder in round 6, Storm Head Coach Kathryn Ratnapala named an unchanged side to face Mavericks in the 3rd edition of Netball London Live. And it was clear from the opening exchanges that Storm were in for another close encounter. Mavericks pilled on the defensive pressure but with Rachel Dunn and Pamela Cookey adjusting to it late on, the score line was finely poised at 10-all at the first break.

Hertfordshire came out of the blocks quickest in Q2, with a 3-9 run that saw them 13-19 up midway into the quarter, before taking a 20-27 lead into the dressing rooms at half time thanks to a superb shooting performance from Sophie Hankin.

With quick action needed to turn the game around and stop the ball from reaching the flawless Mavericks attack, Coach Ratnapala made several changes for Q3. Josie Huckle came on at GK, allowing Hannah Reid to push forward to GD, while Amy Flanagan came on at C to move Sophia Candappa into WD.

The changes showed promise early on in the quarter, with Reid’s aggression allowing Storm to pick out an interception on the edge of the circle to feed through to Cookey and Dunn who were still shooting with accuracy. Despite this Storm were only able to reduce the deficit by a single goal in the quarter, Mavericks holding a 34-40 heading into the final period.

Goals needed to come thick and fast if Surrey were to take anything from the game and protect their Copper Box crown, so the pace was upped to increase the chances on goal. Candappa found Dunn with a huge whole third pass late on before Cookey converted a late turnover, but it was too little too late for the side in duck egg blue as Mavericks closed out a big performance to take a 50-55 win. Perfect revenge for the Hertfordshire side, and painful realisation for Storm that their unbeaten run in the capital had come to an end.

The result sees Mavericks sit second in the Vitality Netball Superleague table on goal average, while Storm miss an opportunity to leap frog their rivals and stay 4th.

Early in the day Maiden Erlegh School were crowned COCO5 Road to Copper Box Arena champions with a 25-15 win over St. Christopher’s School and Storm NPL stayed unbeaten with a 56-31 victory against Mavericks NPL.