Martin Hannan: We’ve got a real sporting chance

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The pitches have gone in from the three contenders for the new National Performance Centre for Sport and as you would expect, I am backing the Edinburgh bid.

The bid is led by Heriot-Watt University and the city council. The other two contenders are Stirling University and council and Dundee City Council with backing from its two local 
universities.

Edinburgh’s bid has been backed by Sir Chris Hoy and Gavin Hastings, among others, and you have possibly already seen Lothian Buses featuring the “Go Edinburgh” branding. They are on the streets as the countdown to the final winner has begun, with the three bidders making their main presentations next month.

In case you are unaware, the concept of a National Performance Centre for Sport was developed as a result of findings in the McLeish Report into the dreadful state of Scottish football. The centre will provide our top sportsmen and women with the facilities, access and support services they need for successful performance in the international stage.

The facility will contain a multi-sport performance centre and house the National Football Academy. The Scottish Government has committed 
£25 million of funding and wants to see the centre up and running by 2016.

There will be people who will say Edinburgh should not get any new national centres of excellence because we already have the parliament. Fair enough, but in monetary terms, the massive investment in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games has been the biggest support of sport in Scotland ever, dwarfing even the tens of millions given to the rebuilding of Hampden Park – Murrayfield, you may recall, got no public investment at all.

There will also be those who will point out that Edinburgh has not done a good job in looking after its sporting infrastructure. Successive councils have indeed neglected Meadowbank and the Commonwealth Pool was only refurbished because of its role in next year’s Games.

But the case for the Capital to host the new centre is very strong and does not need to be based on pointing out that other places got big sports investments.

Heriot-Watt, for instance, has shown that it can host a football academy as it currently houses that of Hearts. Edinburgh has the infrastructure as a city to give all sorts of sportspeople a place to work and improve, especially if Meadowbank can be upgraded.

So far the council and Heriot-Watt have been very professional in the way that they have gone about structuring and promoting the bid.

The campaign scored a notable coup when it recruited Adam Crozier, chief executive of ITV and former boss of the English Football Association and the Royal Mail.

The former Heriot-Watt student said: “As a Scotsman, I am very pleased to sign up to Edinburgh’s bid to host the National Performance Centre for Sport at Heriot-Watt University. The university has a well-established and respected sporting programme with an ethos for nurturing talent and a longstanding commitment to doing just that.

“I congratulate Scotland for committing funds to a new national facility required to produce elite sportsmen and women. I believe Heriot-Watt is ideally placed, geographically and with its strong sporting heritage, to deliver this centre for the benefit of Scotland’s future sports stars.”

Well said, Adam. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

These posh toffs have declared war on the poor

As if to prove that very point made by Cathy Jamieson, the announcement by the coalition government that anyone losing their job will have to wait seven days before they can qualify for Jobseeker’s Allowance is yet more evidence that these posh toffs in Westminster have declared war on the poor.

If this hot weather keeps up, England’s inner cities will once again be tinderboxes ready to flame up at a moment’s notice, as people who have next to nothing decide they might as well riot in the face of the hatred coming their way from the ruling class. I hope not, but fear so.

The Tories are the ones with no class, Cathy

It is not very often that I agree with people in the Labour Party but I find myself actually supporting Cathy Jamieson, who was so infamously called a stupid woman by that sexist pillock William Hague.

Cathy is anything but stupid and the person who revealed himself to be silly and boorish by his comments in the House of Commons was Hague.

Cathy railed against the Tories’ high command and I cannot disagree with a word she said: “They are out of touch with ordinary people so when they come up against people from that background, particularly women, they don’t know how to deal with it.”

Too true, Cathy, and it’s not just women they despise – it’s anyone not of their class.

No whitewash

SO there is “no evidence” to support prosecutions over the outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease in Edinburgh last year which killed four people.

That is, according to the Crown Office. Surprise, surprise, someone’s negligence is almost certainly at the heart of this case, yet prosecutions have already been ruled out – that is just so wrong, and the victims’ families should say so.

I’ll be back

There’s good news and bad news. The good is that you will be spared my rantings next week as I am on holiday. The bad news is that I will be back!

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