According to this mornings news, Maria Miller is planning to meet later today with the leaders of a number of Sports bodies to discuss how their organisations can reduce the impact of spot fixing. This follows on from allegations of spot fixing in football with a number of high profile arrests this weekend. The Sport and Culture Minister is attempting to ensure that the same problems do not occur within cricket, horse racing, rugby league and rugby union. According to a news report one official said this problem “could undermine the sporting legacy of the London 2012 Olympics.” Let us hope that the meeting is successful and all of the organisations emerge with ideas and plans to avoid losing credibility amongst the people who pay to watch these sports and perhaps more importantly, the impact of sport as an honourable endeavour is not lost from our communities.
It is unlikely that Ms Miller or her officials will have the time to read blogs as they prepare for this meeting, but just in case, there is one other legacy from the 2012 Olympics that is still unresolved. On 26th December, when many of us will be watching football matches or attending other sporting events, there will be an anniversary that many of us hope to avoid. At the end of the 2012 games, the Government failed to keep a promise which has had a knock on effect across the country. The challenge of paying for the Olympic Stadia, was immense in the years prior to the games, and one of the ways in which the Government met this commitment, was to borrow £425M from the Big Lottery fund. This money was earmarked for good causes and the Government under pressure from the then opposition Conservative Party, promised to repay the money once the Olympics were over. On Boxing Day, this repayment will be 500 days overdue. As Ms Miller and her officials are reflecting on the Olympic legacy today, perhaps they could also consider this particular legacy.
Its not rocket science, pay the money back from the treasury reserves so that along with the sportsmen and women who have a good Boxing Day, and those of us able to attend matches and other events, we could help to ensure that Christmas for some people in greatest need in our communities is also a good holiday. Christmas is recognised as a crisis time for many whose lives are impacted by domestic violence, repaying the Big Lottery loan now, could improve the support available for sufferers of domestic violence and abuse. We know that there are many more homeless people this year than last year, repaying this loan could ensure that the charities which help homeless people are able to work unencumbered this Christmas. Perhaps Ms Miller could even mention this to her guests this morning as a piece of AOB, perhaps the well funded sports bodies could help the culture Secretary to round this sum up to £500M. That really would be a great way of ensuring that everyone is working to the same ends and would make 500 days and £500M really memorable for all of society! It would also allow the Chancellor to tell us he has paid off at least one debt during 2013!