Sport England is on the lookout for lobbying support as it attempts
to speed up the controversial Wembley Stadium project.
According to a source at the body formerly known as the Sports Council,
civil servants at the Department for Culture Media and Sport are the
most important group to influence if work on the project is to
The source said: 'While ministers have changed, officials have stayed in
place and it is the officials that are dragging their feet. We believe
we could be on site by April and it is only government intervention
stopping that. We want to get the thing moving.'
Sport England has ploughed £120m into the Wembley project, £20m of which will be returned if athletics is not catered for in the
Wembley was given preference over plans for a national sports stadium in
Birmingham late last year.
However, a final decision will not come until the spring, when officers
from the National Audit Office are expected to complete their review
into the spending of public money on the project.
Auditors were called in following criticism of the procurement
procedure, in a report commissioned by Sir Rodney Walker, chairman of
the Wembley National Stadium Ltd - the FA subsidiary set up to manage
The lobbying account for Sport England is held by three-year incumbent
AS Biss & Co, which is understood to be repitching for the work.
According to Sport England head of PA John Zerafa, agencies were due to
be seen this week.
He said that aside from the Wembley work the successful agency would
play a major role in its plan to gain more funding for sport than the
arts, as government departments consider their spending plans.
Zerafa, who joined two months ago from the PA manager role at ITV
Digital, heads a five-strong team.