Creating jobs and profit from sporting events

 

Some have written in to ask why I missed out the Tour de France from my list of English sporting events that have managed to project themselves onto the world stage and create jobs and profit for England. The clue is in the name . It is difficult to claim the Tour de France as a great traditional English event.

I understand that many Yorkshire supporters have come out to line the route and enjoy the cycle competition. Good luck to them. I cannot , however, see that this is a great business triumph. As I understand it all the viewing along the route is free, so there is no ticket revenue. The UK has doubtless paid a substantial sum to the French  promoters of the race to have it here. Councils have spent substantial tax revenues on providing viewing hubs with toilets, large screen tvs and entertainments to provide this free to spectators. They have also spent a lot on road closures, safety inspections and signs. It will be a heavily loss making popular event, offering  free entertainment to many. Anytime a Council or government  wants to provide free or subsidised entertainment it is likely to be popular with those who go.

My last blog was about developing an English brand and projecting in on the world stage in ways which bring in revenue to this country, rather than requiring payments out. One of the interesting issues surrounding Test cricket is the economics of matches at the differing English venues. Selling large numbers of tickets at quite high prices is usually easy at Lord’s and the Oval. Last year Durham was granted an Ashes test, and failed to sell all the seats, requiring help with paying the bills of holding the event. This year it was surprising to see how many empty seats there were even on the first day at Headingley, an old centre of popular enthusiasm for high class cricket. Thoughts on how one of our traditional games could boost its revenues in the north would be interesting.

Henley and Wimbledon show it is possible to specialise on a single location and gain a great worldwide reputation for a particular sporting event. Soccer and  Grand Prix show how  sports with a strong UK early development can easily become huge worldwide brands. The UK has in these cases to battle to stay in the top league and to gain its good share of the revenue.

The UK has been most successful in recent years at hosting teams of engineers and car developers for the whole Grand Prix circuit. It has not been so good at developing Silverstone into the best state of the art world circuit, in the way that Lord’s and Wimbledon are icons of their modern sports with great technology and facilities.

In soccer England and  Wales has one of the richest and best followed leagues in the world, with huge tv and related revenues. Its national team has other problems, and punches below the weight of the Premier League in world football.

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66 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    Indeed the government should stop subsidy for such activities as the Olympics and the Tour de France, they are clearly hugely loss making. Personally I am just as happy watching two good amateurs playing tennis as watching Wimbledon. Just as happy (indeed happier) going to a string see a string quartet at a local venue as going to the Proms. Let us perhaps encourage many smaller local events and participation and let the big ones pay for themselves.

    Politicians alas, always always want daft, huge, grand projects and lots of TV in the hope it will get them some publicity (at tax payers expense). How many more year to pay for the white elephant building of the Olympics indeed will we ever with government spending so out of control?

    • Cliff. Wokingham.
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      I agree about the way some politicians use sport to massage their huge egos and would add, that some politicians use their position and influence to make a great deal of money out of some of these high profile sporting events; especially London 2012.

      I disagree about not using public money to bring some events to this country. Le Tour de France is a very prestigious event watched by a global audience and, in my opinion, anyone watching the tour in Yorkshire could not have been unimpressed by the scenery and I suspect, tourism in that area will go mad over the next couple of years and thus, bring economic gains into the country.

      I would also point out that the people watching the tour on the route all have to eat, drink and get there, this must generate activity for our economy in the local bars, cafes, hotels and transport businesses.

      The biggest surprise for me regarding the Tour, was just how few Hi-Viz clad jobsworths I saw; I was expecting it to be a real Hi-Vizfest.

      I see Ms May is going to announce yet another hugely expensive public inquiry today thanks to the shouty media. Again, just like all the other recent inquiries, it will drag on for ages, cost the country dear and will achieve nothing other than making a few lawyers very rich.

      By the way LL, I used to enjoy a game of tennis in my younger day but, I never achieved nor did I ever see amateur players achieve the level of skill Roger and Novak displayed yesterday.

      The one thing about modern sport that really annoys me is the number of tickets reserved for corporate troughers many of whom don’t actually want to watch the game and thus deprive ordinary people of tickets.

      • lifelogic
        Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        Yes but is it any more fun to watch just because the are a bit better. When i was last at wimbledon i ended up watching the veterans and youngsters and it was good enough for me.

  2. ian wragg
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    You have missed one very English sport John. Scrapping of perfectly good coal fired power stations.
    I see E.ON are asking to demolish Didcot cooling towers at night for “elfansafety” reasons. I think it is to cover the governments embarrassment due to the total stupidity. I see some of the equipment is being shipped to Germany for re-use, amazing. Tickets could be sold and the worlds press invited to cover this act of gross vandalism.
    Well done Hamilton.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 6:53 am | Permalink

      Indeed vandalism in the name of the quack green religion. Can Cameron tell us how much (true) value of electricity he got out of his expensive turbine in Notting Hill PA £40 perhaps? One assumes it must have cost over £5000 all in. What a fabulous investment but at least he paid for it. Without the greencrap and his EU ratting he would have won the last open goal election.

      People want less government, far less or no EU, cheap energy and low taxes when will they wake up?

    • BobE
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      We have our own coal. We have our own miners. We have, or had some of the best coal fired power stations. the idiotic choices about energy useage leaves committed to overseas power sources. Are our leaders insane? Couldn’t we find a way to burn coal properly. We have at least 400 years of coal.
      The lunatics are running the asylum for certain.
      Bobe

      • Bazman
        Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

        Who is going to dig it out BobE? East Europeans on six quid an hour?
        How do you think China and the eastern countries supply this coal so cheap. High tech efficient safe production?

        • BobE
          Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

          Bazman – at least they would be our people. Minimum wage is more than that. Just dig it out. Are you saying that we can’t?

          • Bazman
            Posted July 8, 2014 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

            Coal mining for 1p more than minimum wage LOL!

        • BobE
          Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

          Bazz, what will you do when Putin cuts off the gas and ISIS stop shipping oil to us? Wrings hands in dispair. We should aim at energy independence or as close as possible.

          • Bazman
            Posted July 8, 2014 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

            Putin is our friend he will only cut of the gas if we cannot find other sources and then he would offer the gas at a much lower price. Thats Russia for you!

        • Edward2
          Posted July 8, 2014 at 7:56 am | Permalink

          Who is going to dig it out?
          Machines Baz
          Weve moved on a bit from the days of huge njmbers of men using picks and shovels.

          • Bazman
            Posted July 8, 2014 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

            Sounds expensive and would need a large number of skilled and highly qualified people who would not work for pennies and demand rights and conditions and need to be employed long term.

        • libertarian
          Posted July 8, 2014 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

          Bazman

          The basic pay of a UK coal miner is currently £27,500 pa for a Mon-Fri 5 day shift. Who said miners work for minimum wage?

          Also coal mining is now mostly done by heavy machinery rather than manual labour

          • Bazman
            Posted July 9, 2014 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

            Chinese wages for coal face work. No wonder there are so many UK coal miners on benefits and so many Chinese ones not. You can dig it out for that and most EU citizens would agree.

  3. Mike Stallard
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    My son and his family went to the Tour de France in Harrogate. The town was packed and the trains took three hours to ferry people back to Leeds. It was, he told me, a once in a lifetime experience.
    When you and I were up, Cricket was what got you a Blue. It was smart. The Test was relayed all over the Empire and it was that which held us together. Cricket was a smart sport for smart people.
    Rowing even more so. Football was local and local heroes went on the bus to matches with everyone else.
    And so on.

    Now they are all part of the entertainment industry. Football players in the World Cup play for a lot of English teams. Rowing gets a subsidy (with all the necessary compliances and committee work) of several million pounds. etc.

    PS Rolf Harris, Jimmy Savile, Max Clifford and the MPs who were on the lost list have made teaching in schools very dangerous for men. Men are the ones who actually enjoy playing cricket… (pace the brave girls in the English Cricket XI). PE Teachers are much more vulnerable than any of the names above are they not? Would you risk your future in a changing room today Mr Redwood?

  4. Old Albion
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    Just one small point JR. When you talk of football (soccer) in England and Wales. It’s the English league. The Welsh teams in the past chose to play in our league, rather than the league of Wales.

  5. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    We do well in athletics events, but I am not sure how much revenue is raised. I played badminton all my active life: we hardly got any media coverage yet as a participator sport it was high on the list of enthusiasts.

    We are lacking in ways to generate interest. Compare it to America where they have schools of sport. Compare it to Greece where sport was at the centre of a culture.I do not agree with the above remarks,. We do need the media.Football is well covered,but other sports not. The traditional TV channels need to think more about bringing sport into the home rather than leaving it to commercial channels and as a permanent option. This in itself would create revenue due to the offshoots Interest needs to be whipped up.Soccer itself did not become a millionaires sport until media coverage underlined the importance of it.
    Cricket ,as in my local cricket grounds is a quiet sport , with low attendance. You of course could generate interest by captaining a team of politicians taking them round to various localities , with media coverage and then stand back and watch it grow.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      I cannot help thinking sport was better when it was less commercial, did not need £thousands for equipment, was less professional, had less sponsorship, you did not have to devote yourself to just one sport or send your child to Tennis Camp every day from the age of 3 for them to have even a tiny chance of making it.

      Is it not meant to be for fun?

    • Robert Taggart
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      Blighty has done well in Athletics for many decades now, but, no one bothers to turn out to watch Athletics ‘meets’ – it be just too slow, too ‘bitty’, too boring !

      Blighty (the National teams) has done poorly in Football for many decades now, but, many folks still turn out to watch Footy matches – it be fast, it be constant, it be exciting.

      Hm, what to make of that ? !

  6. Andyvan
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Surely it is for the organisers of any event to decide how to promote it and should not be anything to do with government whose ability to mess up any profit making opportunity (unless it’s stealing through taxation) is immense. As you say the Tour De France, whilst excellent viewing, is not an English event and we should not subsidise it or any other sporting event especially Olympic style mega costly disasters. Leave it to private finance and keep public money out of it.

    • Eddie Hill
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      Absolutely! Our governments seem to treat tax revenue as their private kitty to spend on things that interest them or will win them votes. In the regard, they are no better than the “mayor” of Tower Hamlets.

      We should NOT be spending money on sporting events, or the arts, or Overseas Aid. How bad do matters have to be in this country before we prioritise repairing our economy over vanity projects or helping the rest of the world???

    • Jerry
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      @AndyVan (and others): I think it is called Flying the Flag, something governments should do, of course there should be a realistic prospect for an eventual overall profit (or at least break even), the Olympic might well have fitted that need had it not been for the intervening international financial crash, but why anyone thinks that the Tour De France will in any way fly the British flag when in a day of so all eyes will be on the next stage, next country…

  7. Roy Grainger
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    “Thoughts on how one of our traditional games could boost its revenues in the north would be interesting

    Why bother, leave it to market forces, traditional test cricket is dead but I believe the 20-20 version is still quite popular in the North.

    The Tour de France will presumably generate some additional tourism revenue in future years – it is essentially a marketing event and a useful form of advertising, its success or failure will be measured in the years to come.

    • StevenL
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      If test cricket was left to market forces the tickets would be sold by auction. You get empty seats when the organisers set a price that is too high. Having said that, Durham might not be the most profitable place to have a test match, which begs the question why central planners choose to have one there.

  8. Martin Collyer
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Bernie Ecclestone charges hosting fees for a Grand Prix that leave little or no money available to the circuits for development of facilities.

    Circuits that do have state of the art facilities are invariably government sponsored eg Chinese, Bahrain etc GPs.

    • acorn
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      In true British austerity style, Raikkonen, hit a pothole at the edge of the track as he attempted to get on the correct side of the white line. A situation that would not have occurred on modern tracks’ run-off areas.

      Think of all those poor TV Producers that had to suffer an hour of inane interviews in their schedules. F1 used to be good when it was a motor race, now its just a TV programme called Strictly Come Pit Stop Formation Dancing.

    • Eddie Hill
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      Absolutely! Silverstone is a great example of what can be achieved in highly adverse economic circumstances and I think it was something like 7 or 8 of the GP teams racing at the weekend are based in Britain.

      You should not compare Silverstone to Bahrain or Abu Dhabi, but to Spa, Monza (about to be canned by Ecclestone for not giving him enough money?) or Interlagos, which appear to get little in the way of government money, despite having full grandstands at their GPs.

      Also, look at the articles coming out of Brazil on how people feel when they are mired in poverty and their government wastes money on vanity projects such as the World Cup, when that (questionable ed) institution FIFA has $1 billion sitting in the bank.

  9. Roger Goodacre
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Seats at Test matches are now prohibitively expensive (around £70 or more per day) for ordinary cricket lovers if not corporate guests, taking into account the possibility of rain or dull play not to mention the high additional cost of food and drink in the grounds: no wonder they fail to sell.

    The fact that they’re so expensive is the fault of the ECB, which has pursued a dubious policy of encouraging more counties to upgrade their facilities to Test match standard at enormous expense, without of course being able to increase the supply of Test matches. On top of that, counties were then told to bid competitively for Test matches, and some (such as Durham) have found themselves over-estimating revenues and running up large debts (besides having to compete with grounds like Cardiff which receive Welsh govt subsidy).

    In comparison with the huge revenues generated by TV coverage and sponsorship, seat ticket revenues are minor. As the guardian of the game, the ECB should surely not need to be putting pressure on the grounds to deliver the maximum returns: as in most professional sports, most of the money generated goes straight into the players’s pockets (Graham Swann revealed on air recently that he was giving up £1+ million in earnings by retiring), and little into development of the game. I’d suggest that ECB should charge a small facilitation fee to each Test match venue, to be ringfenced for national development purposes, and otherwise judge the allocation of Tests on how counties proposed to set prices and utilise the receipts (with ensuring a full ground being one of the prime benchmarks).

  10. oldtimer
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    The man who runs Visit Yorkshire had the idea of bidding for the Tour de France opening stages. No doubt, he paid handsomely for the right to do so. No doubt, his aim was and is to put Yorkshire on the map as a tourist destination. Surely he has succeeded in doing that as Le Tour attracts a world wide audience. The payoff can only be measured over time if and when Yorkshire gets a big boost in tourist income.

    Tourism is both a significant earner of foreign revenues and generator of jobs for the hospitality sector. In this respect the UK has much to offer the world.

    Bernie Ecclestone has been very successful in selling the idea to newly emergent economies that building a GP circuit and paying for the privilege of hosting the event once a year is a good idea. In that respect he is similar to the Le Tour organisers, but on a global scale demanding even greater organisational skills. And that is additional to the unremitting technological challenges and costs of the competing teams, much of it funded by sponsors. Silverstone has only progressed as far as it has because hte management (BRDC and others) got a good kicking from Ecclestone and the threat to withdraw the GP from the circuit.

  11. Glenn Vaughan
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    No surprise to see some empty seats at a Test Match venue John. The England cricket team is very poor currently so people are reluctant to spend money on high ticket prices to watch rubbish.

    I was surprised to find no reference to a highly successful sporting event in this country which is held annually in June. Did you mention Royal Ascot? People travel from abroad to watch The Queen and other members of the Royal Family in a parade before the racing begins each day. Aside from that attraction, the quality of the Flat racing is the best you will find anywhere in the world. The Cheltenham Festival held each March is another racing event that is always sold out. Finally, what about the Open Golf Championship held this month?

    Reply Yes horseracing is an other good example, with bloodstock and training businesses etc

  12. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    If you can get your mind around to considering more pressing issues today, then perhaps the report about the Westminster paedophile ring allegations in the Telegraph saying that: “The Home Secretary is expected to face tough questioning from the Opposition during Home Office oral questions in the Commons” will be seen to be inaccurate, in one respect. Some tough questioning from Conservative MPs wouldn’t come amiss.

  13. Iain Gill
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Re “Creating jobs and profit” the best thing the state and politicians can do is get out of the way of the private sector. Stop manipulating the market, free people up, reduce the cost of the state, apply the rules equally, protect our innovations and skills from international thief’s, and protect our borders.

  14. formula57
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Do not overlook music in the commercial exploitation of culture. Aside from the Promenade Concert season and many local festivals there is of course the prime example of Glastonbury. The British contribution to modern music has been considerable.

  15. Robert Taggart
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Perhaps Blighty is at last becoming weary of sport ? – this ‘Blighter’ has been for some time now !
    Sport – all that nonsense of competing, losing, winning… for what ?
    So, Djokovich be the Wimbledon Winner this year – so what ?
    So, Hamilton be the Silverstone Winner this year – so what ?
    So, England Cricket lost to Sri Lanka – a home test series for the first time – so what ?
    So, England Football failed again – nothing was expected to begin with ! – so what ?

    Time to put sport into its proper perspective – it really does not matter – so you might just as well get a life instead !

    • Jerry
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      @Robert Taggart: “Time to put sport into its proper perspective – it really does not matter – so you might just as well get a life instead”

      Professional sport is part of the wider leisure industry, without leisure many might suggest that people do not have a life – so please feel free, take you own advice! :)

      Never mind the fact that sport not only teaches people why they should endeavour to win but also to loose, it makes for a better rounded individual even if one is utterly useless at sport, which is why sport in schools is as important than any National Curriculum subject -if not more so. Only this weekend we saw how Lewis Hamilton went from badly loosing out at qualifying to using that defeat to spur him on to a result that looked somewhat unlikely (and no I’m not ignoring Rosberg’s retirement).

      • Bazman
        Posted July 7, 2014 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        Organised bulling at my school which I blame for my complete lack of interest in any sport. Overall fitness is good however and school sports are not the way to promote this for many.

        • Jerry
          Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

          @Bazman: “[sport was] Organised bulling at my school”

          So you leant to loose then, I assume, sorry but hard cheese, the sooner kids learn that life isn’t fair the better, although I would draw the line at cold showers!

          Anyway, in this day and age no school would all the sort of games master you and I probably had (or depicted in films like Kes) to get away with such behaviour nor allow other kids to.

      • Robert Taggart
        Posted July 7, 2014 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

        re:Hamilton – all he did was win a ‘procession’ ! – big deal – BIG YAWN !!

        • Jerry
          Posted July 7, 2014 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

          @Robert Taggart: I take it Robert that you hate motor racing (never mind understand it) and dislike all sport even more – YAWN – move on, John’s blog today is not for you!

  16. Atlas
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    … well, we subsidise the Arts, Science so why not Sport? Indeed, we subsidise many things that are lost leaders – tax-payers are a captive audience whether they like it or not.

  17. Tom William
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    At the risk of being labelled an old – well curmudgeon will do – I lament the excessive “popularisation” or dumming down, of some sports. The more money they get, the worse it becomes. Why “Jerusalem” at full volume at some cricket Test grounds, speakers all round the boundary relaying “music” during the lunch break? Why flames, smoke and screeching female singers at rugby internationals? Do the administrators think there was no emotion or enthusiasm before their ideas, or that the crowd actually want them? Maybe for 20/20, but that draws a different crowd, who just want a spectacle . Is TV to blame?

    Thankfully tennis and golf, despite the money, have not gone down that route.

  18. Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Your criticism of Silverstone is largely unfair :

    The contractual and financial arrangements of a Formula One Grand Prix are totally unlike any other sporting event.

    Silverstone is expected to provide a state of the art facility to be used by Formula One just once a year yet the revenue from all trackside advertising and the TV rights for every race go to Formula One Management, not the circuit.

    The Circuit is expected to exist on ticket sales alone which as a result are extremely high at almost every race. The financial constraints have also meant that in previous years there has not been the money available to provide the infrastructure like hard surfaced car parks.

    We are fortunate that we have 120,000 people in the UK prepared to pay the asking price and the grandstands are also pretty full on the Saturday as well.

    Unfortunately we no longer have a race in France and even the well supported Italian Grand Prix is currently under threat. Yet in some other countries outside Europe races are run in front of empty grandstands because governments subsidise the race for prestige reasons.

    Within the constraints they have to work, I believe Silverstone has done a great job and should be congratulated on putting on such a fine show last weekend.

    The fact that Lewis Hamilton, a Brit and probably currently the fastest driver on the grid, won the race in a British-built car powered by a British-built engine is a cause to be celebrated.

    If only our footballers, cricketers and Tennis Players could be so successful.

    • Jerry
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      @Chris S: “The fact that Lewis Hamilton, a Brit and probably currently the fastest driver on the grid”

      No disrespect to Lewis Hamilton, or any other F1 driver but, speed is not the only sport in town [1], and F1 is starting to suffer from its obsession with it, it’s not just the glamour of, or that found at, Monaco that makes the race special and probably the popular F1 event each year.

      Motor sport is not just F1 (nor just drivers), there are many race tracks in the UK that are just as good as Silverstone.

      The commercialisation of Formula One has not been kind to the sport…

      [1] and let’s face it, the real racing interest was mid field, that spat between Vettel and Alonso was real motor racing, the latter being the true star of the race – from 16th on the grid to finish 8th, which also included a rather (in my opinion) dubious stop-go penalty

  19. i
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Yes minister and sir humphrey back, would be a worldwide seller. That”s what people around the world call real sport.

  20. yulwaymartyn
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    How about darts? Apparently the modern form was developed in this country early in the last century. This sport has all the qualities that John believes in i.e. money, mixed attendances, tv rights etc. And what could be more English than throwing missiles whilst inebriated?

  21. nigel
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    All may not be lost in Yorkshire. Blessed with sunny days it looked very beautiful. My wife is now saying we should go there instead of France!

    JR On another subject, what about legislating on the commitment of 0.7% of GDP for overseas aid? Is this to be the official Conservative Party policy?

    Reply It’s not my policy. The Bill is a private members one tabled b y a Lib Dem.

  22. The PrangWizard
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    If anyone wishes to treat the issue of advancing English sport seriously they must also promote the nation of England as a unity. I see today we have the BBC’s Daily Politics show planning to discuss an independent Yorkshire. They will say this is topical but it does fit nicely into their narrative of breaking England into Regions – there is already special treatment for Cornwall. England cannot rely on the BBC, which does not recognise England, for support. There is a demand for English Independence but that idea is suppressed and censored.

    Anyone who claims to wish England well must oppose the divison of England. And it is patronising to suggest that a half-baked and cheap-jack administrative arrangement in the House of Commons will do for England and the people of England instead of a true elected parliament, when those self same people support a proper parliament in Scotland.

    How is England to be marketed overseas and taken seriously abroad when it is not recognised as a nation here and the people are required to deny their own nation and ethnicity, where even the flying of our flag is discouraged in many official quarters. There must be an end to the conflation of British and English in all discussions; England cannot be subsumed under the myth of ‘Britishness’.

    On 12th July 927AD King Athelstan of the Royal House of Wessex, was recognised as the first King of all England at the Council of Eamont, Cumberland. This date is English Unity Day. Mark it.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      July 12th, thanks for that.

      We can ignore whatever may happen in Ulster on that day …

    • Mark B
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      I think England is represented well in sport, but you are right about the BBC. A little while ago, I had cause the complain to the BBC when, on their sports web page, they refereed to Scots, Welsh and N.Irish from their home towns and respective nations but, refereed to the English as British.

      I reminded the BBC, that in their charter, they have a representative of all the Home Nations and, they were obliged under their Charter, to treat us all equally.

      To be fair to them, they did change it. But it got me thinking. One of the things that irritates me is, that we, the English, do not have our own National anthem. It is the British National anthem.

      It is something I like to see change. I think it high time that England got its own anthem.

      eg Land o Hope and Glory, Jerusalem, and I Vow to Thee My Country.

      PS Can we add Snooker to the list ??

      PPS Where is U5 these days ?

    • William Grant
      Posted July 10, 2014 at 5:11 am | Permalink

      Scotland does not have a proper parliament, as Holyrood is only called a parliament to butter up Scotland. It has fewer powers than many other regional or state bodies around the world and is subservient to Westminster. When the UK youth parliament was held at Westminster I’m sure I heard a
      commentator say that 300
      representatives were crammed into the House of Commons chamber. Since the devolved parliament and assemblies seem to have room for all their members, a federal uk should be constructed on the premise that English members should have the same privilege and have a devolved body where everyone can have an actual seat to sit in, and powers should be allocated according to what the number of members in each legislature can cope with. As England and Wales is still an entity, and the Welsh body is called an assembly, then England’s one would have to be called an assembly too.
      Radio Luxembourg provided (much- needed) competition for the BBC in the old days. I believe that Sky’s Astra satellite operates out of Luxemburg too and Sky is responsible for the increased wealth in sport. So, if federalism is the answer for the UK, how about asking to use the 400-plus seat little-used ex-EU parliament building in little Luxemburg, to host either the federal UK parliament or the English assembly, on a temporary basis, while a permanent building to host either is being built in London? Luxemburg isn’t that far away! Would this save members of moving completely out of Westminster while it is refurbished?

  23. John B
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Any sport appeals to a minority, which is why we have lots of different sports instead of just one big one.

    Sporting events outside places specially built to accommodate them may have many people lining the route, but many more are inconvenienced by not being able to do what they want to do be it business, chores or leisure.

    That means there is a cost in loss of business elsewhere, time cost to those who have to spend more of it getting where they want to be, and loss in value of leisure time.

    Worse when it involves money collected in taxation which if left with the taxpayer would have a greater value and benefit than being used for something which inconveniences them.

    Public events should by ticket or at a cost to the organisers, some of which revenue can be used to compensate those inconvenienced, and under no circumstances involve public funds… and that includes the Olympics.

    I am sure there will be no sporting event in future outside arena built to cater from them.

    The problem is too many people seem not to understand, equations contain more than one datum, nor the concept of profit and loss being what is left when the cost or value expended of doing something is balanced against the revenue or value obtained from doing it.

  24. Leslie Singleton
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    I write in protest at what I see as the blithering idiocy of this Tour de France business. Why do I pay Road Tax is what I want to know. I have just literally (literally literally) been impenetrably blocked in to my village and blocked out from trying to go about my business with an appointment (in Chelmsford) which I have just had to ring and cancel. The signs about all this (which I am sure, inadequate as they are, didn’t come cheap, never mind the barriers and their erection, police time etc) were very (again literally) misleading. For weeks these signs have proclaimed that a main road would be closed today (fair enough, sort of) but it was much much more than that and every possible way in was ultimately blocked, without there being enough Road Closed signs to warn people. I have just fruitlessly added about 50 miles to the car for nothing. It’s bad enough anyway any day of the week with swarms of cyclists–muscae volitantes–all over the narrow country roads around here–as many abreast as they fancy– but today has been the outside of enough. They simply should not be allowed to play their games on public roads like this.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      To be fair to the tour, its not just them. The same also happens for marathons, half marathons, and similar. Reading and Sunderland are just two examples of places with ridiculous restrictions in place to facilitate a minority sporting event. Largely a shambles as local security companies and councils are allowed to block roads off, far in excess of the ones they have official permission to shut, and the police wash their hands of it, it allows local thugs employed by the official organisers to ride roughshod over any common sense or rights of the public. The way such events are organised and run is in great need of a radical overhaul.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      Postscript–And if that weren’t enough, having tried again after the flies had gone by, I found the main road through the village still closed and was told that it would remain so till 6.00 pm (tonight I assume or at least hope).

    • Jerry
      Posted July 7, 2014 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      @Leslie Singleton: Totally agree, I bet if the British Touring Car Championship wanted to do as the Tour de France has done on a weekday the authorities would have soon told them go to find a motor racing circuit to circulate upon!

      Want a cycle race in the Home Counties on a weekday, I understand that there is a nice Velodrome (that has only seen use for something like two weeks over the last 2 years) in the Stratford E20 area…!

    • Posted July 7, 2014 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      You should have taken the day off and walked down the road to watch the event !

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted July 7, 2014 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

        Chris–No thanks because, as I say, I see enough of them all day everyday anyway. The public roads (in lovely countryside) seem to suit them around here–big Arrows pointing out the routes all over the place. The “event” I gather goes by before one knows it’s arrived and it’s not as if one can even begin to appreciate jockeying for position or anything like that. There it was gone. No Road Tax for them of course.

      • Jerry
        Posted July 7, 2014 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

        @Chris S: Assuming your comment was being sarcasm, but in case it was not, why should people have to do take the day off and perhaps earn no money, perhaps such people should be allowed to claim back their losses?!

  25. ian
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Could out do game of thrones, the fall of a empire. The calamity of the english people

  26. Amanda
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    Mmm, public cost, or public investment? How much money was spent in Yorkshire over the last several days ? How much will be spent because of this event? How much investment to the region might this ‘sunny’, community spirited, innovate, image bring?

    What is it worth to enhance community spirit and pride in achievement? In a time where there is a greater need for ‘localism’, how much has that been enhanced? How many more people will give time and energy to their local community? What will that be worth? How many more will be inspired to be more entreprenurial? Britian is starting to do very well in cycling, and Yorkshire could become a centre – maybe the weekend was a small ‘kick start’.

    I have the greatest of respect for economic competence Mr Redwood, but maybe you under estimate other factors important to ‘economic strength’.

    To those who bemoan the fate of England, you may be pleased to know that my 5 year old grandson is very sure that he is English, and very keen to know in the ‘Tour de France’, which was the English team – a seed once planted ………… And, in addition, always put English on any form that requires nationality, and always tell people who ask, that you are English. A tended flame will not burn out.

    • Andrew S
      Posted July 8, 2014 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

      Yes I agree with this comment. All of a sudden Mr Redwood is sounding very southern – Lords, Henley, Wimbledon…
      Whereas 2.5 million on the roads of Yorkshire, spending tens of millions in high margin food, drink, accommodation, camping, new bicycle sales no doubt to follow, many more people taking up exercise. The future tourism revenue, already now the Tour De France organisers are planning with British Cycling for an annual 3 day professional cycle race, the Tour De Yorkshire.

      I witnessed the huge community enthusiasm for the TDF last weekend, orderly behaviour, no drunk crowds nor fighting (as in football), a full cross section of the people embracing the theme in the villages and towns, police outriders smiling and high-fiving the crowds, cheers for the French Gendarmery as they rode by in escort. It was a magnificent spectacle.
      The Yorkshire Grand Depart organisation has proved a huge success in an event that has global reach.

      I think on this occasion Mr Redwood has got it wrong and has filtered out the full range of intangible and tangible by-products from this event, perhaps because he is less inclined towards cycling than cricket, tennis, rowing, and than something happening 250 miles to the north.

      Anyway, 2.5 million people voted with their personal preferences, their feet and their pockets, so perhaps that is something he might like to think about.

      Reply I said it was popular and fully understand why crowds had a day out. My article was about commercial exploitation of English brands!

  27. John Swannick
    Posted July 8, 2014 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    Re: Test cricket. Surely its just old fashioned supply and demand. Perhaps the ECB should try differential pricing? Or just play Australia and India?

    However, long-term, there are trends which worry me. I am sure the number of kids playing cricket in clubs is higher than ever. And the efforts of those clubs and the admirable Chance to Shine Foundation to get more cricket into state schools is not to be underestimated. But, as a lay cricket coach, I am shocked at how few of the 100+ kids I coach have seen cricket being played. Sky has contributed massively to cricket, financially and through the quantity and quality of its coverage of the game. But perhaps the lack of mass viewing facilitated by free-to-view channels will have serious future repercussions.

    In no way do I advocate going back to the BBC – their treatement of cricket was a case study in the ossifying effect of state monopoly and it deservedly lost the franchise – but remember that the 2005 Ashes, which was the biggest filip to the game I have ever experienced, by some considerable margin, was screened by Channel 4.

  28. a-tracy
    Posted July 8, 2014 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    My husband and I both turned to each other in the car the other day and laughed, the great Tour de France event was being advertised on Capital with the warning; no parking, take care with public transport, road jams, steer clear of the area, he said to me ‘are you thinking what I’m thinking’!

    As for cricket, I don’t remember my school in Staffordshire playing cricket and I have two boys 18 and 23 years of age and don’t remember either of them playing cricket in school.

  29. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted July 8, 2014 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    When young, I used to play soccer in places like Gunnesbury Park because it was cheap. You put up with the muddy pitches and the occasional howling gale. The quality of play did not merit better. I used to play cricket with a club, because you needed to pay in order to finance a good groundsman.

    Now old, I get a good view for free on TV, either at home or down the pub. I don’t understand people who pay loads of money on transport and admission just to say “I was there”. I am, nevertheless grateful to them because they help to finance my free viewing.

  30. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted July 8, 2014 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Why otherwise sensible people would want to drive and then stand for hours to see some chaps they have never previously heard of wiz past on a bike is beyond me. Are we really all that bored as a nation to get excited about this. Cricket has it’s dull moments but at least it isn’t all over in the blink of an eye as a sporting spectacle.

    The councils are just as bad – York city council made a local shopping centre into a ‘hub’ with large screen tv. I’m happy to report hardly anyone was mad enough to drive here to watch and the car park was mostly empty and the whole thing was a massive flop. Well done York. Waste of money.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
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