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Opinion: Brent can’t lose stadium cash

PUBLISHED: 08:00 08 July 2018

Wembley Stadium. Picture: PA

Wembley Stadium. Picture: PA

PA Wire/PA Images

England’s start in the World Cup gave a huge lift across the country. We have to give a lot of credit to the Football Association for finally putting the right team both on the field and in the management team.

But there is another field of play where the FA cannot afford to score an own goal: the future of Wembley Stadium. It is an international icon vital not only for Brent and London, but also for the UK.

It is up for sale.

£161m of public money was invested to secure its redevelopment of the stadium. As MP for Brent North I was extensively involved in the initial difficult negotiations and agreements relating to the Wembley redevelopment.

A key part of the deal, to safeguard the £161m of public money provided for the construction, was the funding of Brent sports and community projects through a 1 per cent share of the turnover from the stadium. That money goes to the Wembley National Stadium Trust (WNST) which in 2017 gave £213,516 to projects across the country.

The WNST is boosting sports and community facilities at a critical time for public health where community sports provision and youth services have been whittled away by government cuts to local authorities. The breadth of sporting activities provided by Wembley National Stadium Trust includes six projects with a distinct focus on disability or mental ill health and three specifically targeted at getting more girls and young women to play sport. They also fund work with young offenders, refugees and asylum seekers and older people working their way back to fitness.

These are superb projects around fitness, football and inclusion that currently are set to benefit local people for 50 years. No sale of the stadium should be allowed to jeopardise that.

That is why I have written to the secretary of state to say any sale has to be conditional on the continued flow of revenue to the trust.

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