“The World Cup could pump up to £100 million into Bristol’s economy if the city becomes one of the football tournament’s host cities,” the Evening Cancer assured us last month.
Could? If? These are conditionals aren’t they?
So where did the Cancer get this impressively enormous figure from then?
Er, Bristol City Council. Or to be even more precise from Stephen Wray, who now masquerades under the soppy and pretentious title of ‘Partnerships Director’ at the council on a six-figure salary after being removed last year from his post as Head of Culture and Leisure Services for being useless.
And strangely enough he was particularly useless at sums and arithmetic involving large amounts of public money. Because this is the city council director that assured us in November 2006 that the new Museum of Bristol project would cost us £18m.
A couple of years later, at the last count, the cost of this project was a little under £27m, which means Wray was only out by about 50% on that one.
So where did his figure of £100 million in revenue for the World Cup come from then?
The Cancer refers vaguely to a combination of gate receipts (which will be shared by FIFA, the FA and Bristol City FC not the city council or any other local businesses), a fan park (there were 39 fan parks in Germany attracting a total of 18.4m fans at an average of 470,000 people per fan park) and tourism receipts.
England’s official world cup bid site mentions a rise of €400 million (£340m) in tourism receipts for the whole of Germany for the whole of their World Cup tournament. It also refers to the 3.36m fans who actually attended the live matches spending €20 million (£17m).
So extrapolating a ball-park figure for Bristol based on 5 games at 100% capacity (210,000 fans) plus an average size fan park gives us a figure of less than £9m, nowhere near Wray’s £100m.
To put this into perspective, the Bristol Harbour Festival has been running for 35 years, will cost £400,000 this year and will bring in 200,000 – 250,000 visitors in three days, yet the City Council has no real idea how much revenue it brings into the city so how can anybody have any idea about a one-off event like the World Cup?
The answer is they don’t. But why let the truth get in the way of a crude PR campaign?
However what the council should be able to tell us – but aren’t – is how much of our money they’re prepared to spend to host a World Cup.
Because have no doubt it will cost. The infrastructure demands for a major international event like the World Cup are huge.
But how much? Where’s the money coming from? And when will we be told?
Surely the city council have done the sums and worked this all out before embarking on their gushing PR campaign for the benefit of the FA and the local press?
And surely Mr Wray, when he presents Bristol’s bid to the FA in November, won’t be presenting them with a blank cheque underwritten by us?
Let’s remember too that FIFA and their big business backers are some of the most voracious and skilled deal makers around who undoubtedly have the skills and the leverage to run rings around Wray and the business amateurs at Bristol City Council.
So Mr Wray how much is this going to cost us? Perhaps we could clear up this minor detail now please?