Commonwealth Games Scotland (CGS) Chairman Michael Cavanagh discusses the issues that will be raised as the forthcoming AGM.
This year’s CGS AGM on Thursday 26 May is of particular, strategic importance as we vote in a new Board who will be responsible for guiding us through one of the most exciting and important times in our 80 year history, as Scotland prepares to host the next Commonwealth Games in just over three years time.
With a number of motions on the table from BadmintonScotland, I hope sports will take the time to study them thoroughly, ask any questions and think through fully the implications, before drawing to conclusions that could have significant consequences for our organisation.
Whilst motions are welcomed from any member sport for consideration by the full Council, it is important they reflect the true picture and in this case there are a number of inaccuracies in the motions and supporting information that I believe need clarification in advance of the AGM.
Apart from team events where entry numbers are fixed, there are no selection criteria set by the Commonwealth Games Federation. Selection criteria are the responsibility of each participating country. As you already know, we are currently in the middle of a process agreed with sports to review the Delhi criteria, and selection standards for Glasgow 2014 will be set by November 2011.
CGS’s position on selection standards is very clear and has been for the last three Games. The implementation of higher selection standards during that time has undoubtedly made a significant contribution to the improved performances of the team. Whilst we recognise that there will be some adjustments to maximise the opportunity of a home Games, we are committed to delivering our most successful team ever in 2014 and to ensure we achieve this, we believe that rigorous performance standards must remain at the core of the selection policy.
The net result of this motion if passed would be for Scotland to have automatic maximum entries in every event, regardless of whether we have athletes who are able to perform with distinction in these events. In Scotland the overall success of the 2014 Games will be judged on the success of Team Scotland. This is a huge responsibility which we take very seriously and we hope you will too.
With regard to funding, the £3.5m figure circulated is incorrect. As previously advised to all sports, CGS will receive a total of £3m from the Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee to buy out the CGS marketing rights up to the 2014 Commonwealth Games. This is standard practice for major Games including the Olympics. This is not a windfall payment but replaces the sponsorship monies that CGS would normally attract from commercial partners wishing to have an association with Team Scotland. The monies are used for the operational preparation and delivery of the team at the Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Youth Games.
A series of commitments and principles for investment of this money were outlined and agreed by all our member sports at our AGM in 2010. We are conscious of the need not only to invest in Glasgow 2014 but also in the period beyond. Uniquely we have to fund teams for three Games within a four year period, whlst also needing to capitalise on a successful home Commonwealth Games. We are also very aware of the current financial climate and the increasing pressures on public finances. The net result of this motion would be to eliminate CGS reserves by the end of the 2018 period making us more reliant on external sources in these uncertain times. It would signal a return to the amateur fundraising days and be a deflection from the focused, professional sports organisation we have become as a result of sound financial planning and security.
Other programmes directly benefitting sports and athletes like the Achieve 2014 programme will continue to be developed, but in making these decisions we are very careful not to duplicate roles and responsibilities of either the individual sports or of sportscotland, whose role is to help fund the preparation of athletes for the Games.
Only last week we announced a new scheme that will see the success and sacrifice of Team Scotland medallists at the Games rewarded once they retire from Commonwealth Games sport. 28 medallists from Delhi will receive a share of £182,500 and the scheme will operate again in 2014. We believe this is a tangible benefit for athletes, resulting at least in part from Scotland being the next Games hosts and CGS receiving monies from the required buy-out of our marketing rights by the Organising Committee. It also complements rather than duplicates other areas of funding.
However we recognise that sports need to be adequately funded if they are to deliver, and we have worked extremely hard together with sportscotland and the Scottish Government to ensure there is appropriate funding in place for the preparation of athletes for the Games. In December 2008 it was announced that £7.5m (of which £3.75m was new money from the Scottish Government) would be available over three years from sportscotland for athlete preparation specific to the Games and we believe this was a significant result. As you will also know from sportscotland, plans for athlete personal awards for potential medallists are also at the discussion stage and is something we would greatly welcome.
It is right and proper that these issues are fully debated at the AGM, however I hope that on reflection the majority of sports will be supportive of the strategic, long-term approach we are taking to ensure Scotland can afford to participate in the Games in the long-term, whilst continuing to be even more successful, punching above its weight on the Commonwealth stage.
It is vital that following the AGM the incoming Board is able to focus on the job in hand and work hard to get us in the best possible shape, not only for Glasgow 2014 but to deliver a successful legacy beyond.
I hope all 26 member sports will do their utmost to attend and we look forward to your input.