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Tens of millions of pounds are to be ploughed into next year's Commonwealth games in Manchester to stop the event b...
Tens of millions of pounds are to be ploughed into next year's Commonwealth games in Manchester to stop the event becoming a failure that would add to Britain's reputation for mishandling big sports projects, reported The Observer (p6).
The government has agreed to cover the games's debts with up to£100m of taxpayers' money. An initial cash injection of more than£30m will be announced soon after the general election.
About£150m of public money has already been spent on the games, but most of that is lottery funding to build world-class facilities for 2002 and then become training centres for British athletes.
Tony Blair has approved the bail-out. It follows a review of the finances and organisation of the games conducted by a ministerial group headed by home secretary Jack Straw. Members of the group have become increasingly alarmed at the growing hole in the event's finances. Sources say the final shortfall could now be even more than the£60m 'worst-case scenario' revealed by The Observer in February.
Barely a third of the£62m organisers claimed they would raise has been found. Critics say organisers were wildly unrealistic about the television revenue they would make. Only a fraction has been secured. Negative publicity about Wembley and the Millennium Dome has also detered sponsors from getting involved in the games.
The government money will be used to complete the main stadium, pay for a walkway between Picacadilly railway station and the nearby Sport City venue, and to promote the event. Organisers fear their marketing budget is so small that many people will not know the event is happening. A big promotional push is planned in London and the south to ensure that the games are seen as of national importance.
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