BBC BLOGS - David Bond
« Previous | Main | Next »

What now for the British Olympic Association?

Post categories:

David Bond | 16:50 UK time, Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The deal agreed late last night between the London Organising Committee (Locog) and the British Olympic Association represents a humiliating climbdown for the BOA and its combative chairman Lord Colin Moynihan.

The BOA will say that the commitments on tickets and sponsorship represent a "strengthening of their partnership" with Locog, but Lord Moynihan was playing for higher stakes than this.

As one senior sports administrator told me today, the seven points which make up the substance of the agreement were all likely to happen anyway. And nowhere in the press release issued this morning is there any mention of the financial assistance the BOA was seeking.

That is deeply embarrassing - especially when one looks back at how this all started.

Lord Moynihan and the BOA were originally demanding their £5m share from any surplus from the 2012 Games up front. The chief executive Andy Hunt suggested that Team GB's preparations for next summer were at risk unless they got that money.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.


The argument then switched to the legacy post-2012 with the BOA saying it was fighting for the future of all Olympic sports and that it was entitled to a greater share of any surplus.

It then became a bewildering dispute over the way any surplus was calculated with the BOA controversially asking for the costs of staging the Paralympics to be removed from the final sums, thus potentially making their share of the surplus larger.

On this specific point, the BOA rejected a ruling in Locog's favour signed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge. Unperturbed the BOA took it a stage further by filing a case with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

This extraordinary gamble backfired as the government, Locog and the IOC circled the wagons. And as the pressure grew on the BOA, Lord Moynihan and chief executive Hunt were left with little choice but to sign up to the deal announced today.

So what does the BOA get out of it?

The first two points outlining who gets what in the event of any surplus brings welcome clarity to the situation for the BOA.

Lord Moynihan and Hunt were worried a recent commitment to pay back the Government money from any surplus might effect their call on the first $8m (£5m) and they now at least have a written commitment to who gets what and when. But Locog says this was always the case and that it is likely to be an irrelevant argument as they are "peddling hard just to break even".

On the point of how the surplus is calculated, the BOA is saying that the two sides have simply agreed to disagree in the interests of resolving the dispute. That is to be welcomed but remains a humiliating admission given the BOA has probably spent large sums of money already on legal fees in fighting this dispute.

The help on sponsorship is potentially a lifeline for the BOA. Locog's marketing team now have 40 partners pumping in around £700m and the BOA's future rests on persuading some of those companies to remain Olympic partners when they take back the marketing rights to the Olympics in the UK after 2012.

But shouldn't this have happened anyway? Sources at Locog suggest so. The BOA argues, again, that this has simply brought greater clarity to the relationship.

Locog's decision to help market and sell two iconic items of merchandise - the BOA's attempt to emulate the red mittens so popular in Vancouver in 2010 - could potentially raise a decent sum of money if Moynihan's highly paid team can come up with the right idea. Locog has also agreed to waive any royalties fees - but it was not planning to budget for those anyway and it would have been incredible if London 2012 hadn't let the BOA sell these items in their shops.

The extra tickets will undoubtedly help the BOA in its search for £20m in donations for Team GB. I understand the BOA will be given the chance to buy around 5,000 tickets from Locog to help attract donations and to sell to past Olympians.

If released at the right time next summer and if some of the tickets are for the most sought-after events this will undoubtedly help the BOA raise funds. But there are a couple of questions here.

Is it right that after a ballot in which many members of the public will inevitably miss out on the chance to see the best events that wealthy individuals should be able to guarantee their seats by simply donating funds to the BOA's appeal?

And should any money the BOA makes from these tickets be ring fenced for the athletes? What provision is there in the Locog agreement to ensure the money doesn't simply plug any shortfall in the BOA's accounts?

The final two points on venue access and help with the Get Set Educational Programme are important to the BOA but when all these commitments are added up they hardly amount to the "win, win" Andy Hunt was describing today.

But the far greater value for the BOA is in the chance to settle and rejoin the Olympic family just over a year out from the Games. Hunt realised the BOA had taken the dispute too far and with pressure from government and the IOC growing, had to find a way out.

Both Hunt and Moynihan will now be able to attend Locog board meetings again but note the absence of Moynihan's name from today's press release. Locog chief executive Paul Deighton thanks Hunt and his team for finding a resolution. That, I am told, was a deliberate snub for Moynihan.

And, whilst this embarrassing little spat has finally been put to bed, far more serious questions over the BOA's future role, its finances and Lord Moynihan's leadership are left hanging in the air.

Comments

 

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.