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Exclusive: Commonwealth Games Federation plan to quit London for Kuala Lumpur blocked


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August 16 - A proposal to move the headquarters of Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) from London to Kuala Lumpur after Glasgow 2014 was blocked today following protests from several countries.

The controversial plan, which would have seen the organisation leave the British capital after more than 80 years based there, was presented at the CGF General Assembly here today.

But a majority of the 71 delegates opposed the plan, angry at the fact it had been presented as a fait accompli by Prince Tunku Imran, the Malaysian President of the CGF, and the rest of the ruling Executive Board.

The six staff who work for the CGF in London had been called to a meeting at 7.30am here today where they were told of the plans to relocate in September 2014 and given notices of redundancy.

These included Mike Hooper, chief executive of the CGF.

But by the end of the meeting they had been told to "tear up" the letters after any decision was deferred to an extraordinary meeting on a date to be announced.

Tunku had earlier delegates that relocating from the CGF's current London headquarters, at a building in Piccadilly owned by EON Productions, the film production company that makes the James Bond movies, would save them £925,000 ($1.4 million/€1.1 million) within the next quadrennial.

The CGF's roots are in the British Empire Games Federation, founded in 1932 following the success two years earlier of the British Empire Games in Hamilton, Canada.

Its name was changed in 1952 to the British Empire and Commonwealth Games Federation, and again in 1966 to the British Commonwealth Games Federation, until eventually being changed again in 1974 to the Commonwealth Games Federation.

But it has always been based in London.

"These were not easy decisions to make and the [Executive] Board recognises that there in particular personal ramifications for incumbent staff," Tunku had told delegates in the morning.

"I formally advised them of these decisions earlier today and reasons for them.

"All have been invited to apply for positions based in the new location on terms and conditions applicable under Malaysian law.

"However, no guarantees of an offer of employment have been given."

Many countries publicly showed their support to staff during the lunch break and it was no surprise that the proposal was defeated after being deferred from the morning to the end of the Assembly.

Tunku had claimed that Kuala Lumpur had been identified following a study carried out last year by professional services firm KPMG who considered a number of factors, including tax efficiency and the costs of overheads.

A total of 15 countries had been considered, including Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Canada, India, Jamaica, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa.

"The outcome of the Board's consideration of that work identified Kuala Lumpur as the preferred location, not only as a consequence of its substantially reduced overhead costs but also due to a series of unique tax concessions that the Federation can access, not only in relation to its income but also in relation to the remuneration of any expatriate employees, which would be tax free, with the subsequent benefit accuring back to the Federation," said Tunku.

"In addition to the projected savings of £925,000 across the next quadrennial, the Board is of the view that Kuala Lumpur's geographic location will lend itself to additional savings arising as well as enhancing the Federation's ability to do more for members.

"This decision was particularly sensitive for me as two of the Board members [myself and Dr M. Jegathesan, the CGF's honorary medical adviser] are resident in Kuala Lumpur.

"That is why we took independent advice on this matter and declared our interests in the matter."

But the opposition to the plan was summed up best by Sani Ndanusa, President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee.

"We often wonder how we appear to the international community," he said.

"Today we looked deep into the heart of how we appear to ourselves.

"It's not been an edifying experience and I trust there will be no repeat of this."

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If Hamilton is the Athens of the CGF, then London is the Lausanne.

Bugger KL. Although strategically it would work.

If distance wasn't an issue - if nominate Christchurch - host city of one of their most iconic games ever, and in need of the investment.

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Nice try Prince Tunku Imran where is the Queen she needs to fire him the head of the Commonwealth Games federation, London England is the capital of the Commonwealth Games and not Kuala Lumpur Malaysia the Malaysians, London England 2022 Commonwealth Games I say bring the Games back to the Commonwealth capital.

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  • 5 months later...
Prince Tunku drops proposal to relocate Commonwealth Games Federation to Kuala Lumpur

January 23 - A controversial plan to relocate the headquarters of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) from London to Kuala Lumpur has been dropped following opposition from several countries - but its future in the British capital remains in doubt.

The proposal by Malaysia's CGF President Prince Tunku Imran had divided opinion, attracting criticism from a number of members, including Commonwealth Games England.

Tunku has now removed the subject from the agenda at the Extraordinary General Assembly due to take place here tomorrow, although the topic of where the CGF should be based in the future remains.

"I am withdrawing that proposal for this meeting and moving to Kuala Lumpur is not on the agenda," Tunku told insidethegames here.

"It takes a lot of the emotion out of it.

"It also takes any perceived conflict of interests and self-interest out of it."

London has been the headquarters of the CGF for more than 80 years but rising costs may force a move away.

The six full-time members of the CGF are currently based at a building in Piccadilly owned by EON Productions, the film production company that makes the James Bond movies, but their lease is up later this year.

Britain's Sports Minister Helen Grant has told the CGF that a subsidiary it receives from Government agency UK Sport to help finance its operations will not be renewed when it ends this year, throwing into doubt the organisation's financial ability to remain in London, which in a new study published last week came out as the world's most expensive city.

One option could be move - at least temporarily - to Scotland, where the CGF have the offer of office space.

"The members have to decide the best place to locate the headquarters," said Tunku.

"That may or may not be the UK.

"There is an sentiment to stay in the UK because of the Commonwealth ties.

"I can see that - I like the UK myself, I was educated there.

"But we must also use our heads when deciding where we locate.

"Tax issues is one thing, but so is cost.

"We have an offer from the Scottish Government on accommodation, which is obviously a saving.

"That is something we have to look at seriously."

It has been estimated that by moving the CGF headquarters from London it would save £925,000 ($1.4 million/€1.1 million) within the next quadrennial.

"The important thing for us to make savings so we have more resources that we can allocate to some of the development projects which the members are demanding," said Tunku.

"They have to look at that very carefully.

"In some locations outside the UK there are quite a lot of savings which can be effected.

"But it would mean then it would not be in the home of the Commonwealth."

Kuala Lumpur had been identified following a study carried out in 2012 by professional services firm KPMG who considered a number of factors, including tax efficiency and the costs of overheads.

A total of 15 countries had been considered, including Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Canada, India, Jamaica, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa.

Tunku has promised that if the members decide they want to move out of the UK then he will set-up an independent panel to decide where they should relocate too.

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You know what - I have a hunch GC 18 might be the very last CwG.

Maybe even after Glasgow - whats to say the CGF won't self combust and leave GC organisers high and dry?

I don't think there is any danger of that. There will be at least one interested bidder I am sure. You only need one city o be interested, as manchester showed.

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I really do think some sort of reform might just keep the Commonwealth Games viable.

Put a concrete list of sports/disciplines for each edition. Have Cricket 20/20 and Football on the list. Make venue requirements smaller in capacity. Have athletics/Ceremonies at 25,000, a capacity which most Commonwealth cities can achieve.

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I really do think some sort of reform might just keep the Commonwealth Games viable.

Put a concrete list of sports/disciplines for each edition. Have Cricket 20/20 and Football on the list. Make venue requirements smaller in capacity. Have athletics/Ceremonies at 25,000, a capacity which most Commonwealth cities can achieve.

Football and cricket just add to the athlete quotas. The sport program is unique in that it has Olympic events + Commonwealth sports. If the athletics capacity was reduced to something like 10-20,000 I think it would be in reach of more cities.

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But the thing is that it is the events in the main stadium that draw the biggest crowds plus the biggest revenue, ie ceremonies and athletics, so reducing the capacity, reduces the revenue. What i like about the Commonwealth sports is that the host city has a say to which i think 2 sports it can add to the program, so it can more tailer towards either their venues or sporting preferences.

I think when people see that Glasgow can host a smaller yet successful games then it might make countries more willing to host.

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But I do think like some people here that 40,000 is a tad too much for most cities to achieve. So by lowering capacity, you could potentially reach more cities. There will always be the Commonwealth Games which are over the likes of 40,000 at the main stadium.

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  • 5 months later...
London to stay as Commonwealth Games Federations headquarters as relocation proposal finally laid to rest

London will remain the headquarters of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) after its members once again strongly rejected a proposal to leave the the British capital here today.

The topic was discussed for the third time in less than a year at today's General Assembly of the CGF here on the eve of Glasgow 2014.

Besides the offer from Kuala Lumpur to move to Malaysia, there was a new proposition on the table from the Government in Cyprus promising tax breaks if the CGF moved there.

An independent report commissioned by Prince Imran, the Malyasian President of the CGF, had claimed there would be significant financial savings if the organisation relocated from Britain, where it has been based since it was founded in 1932 as the British Empire Games Federation.

But the delegates, led mainly by the African and Caribbean members, again made it clear they wanted to remain in London.

Uganda summed up the mood of the meeting by declaring they believed the CGF headquarters should remain in London "because it is the Queen's home".

The CGF's overheads have been dramatically cut after their relocation from its former offices at a building in Piccadilly owned by EON Productions, the film production company that makes the James Bond movies, to a new location in Old Street in Shoreditch.

There, they are based at offices run by CAN Mezzanine, a company which provides affordable office space exclusively for the social sector.

Some of these savings, though, have been mitigated by the decision of Government agency UK Sport to discontinue its annual £75,000-a-year ($126,300/€92,000) funding to the CGF after September.

Prince Imran admitted that the CGF would now have to commit their future to London.

"It is clear that the members want to remain in London," he said.

"The business case was presented clearly to the General Assembly and they have decided that they wish to stay in London.

"There is clearly a strong emotional attachment to being in London and its ties with the mother country and the Queen."

There will be an important change next year, however, as the CGF decided to abolish several honorary posts, including those of secretary and treasurer, roles currently held by Scotland's Louise Martin and Barbados' Austin Sealy.

They will be replaced by professional experts who will be incorporated onto the CGF Executive Board.

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  • 1 year later...

And looks like the KL proposal sealed the Tunku's fate:

Martin elected President of Commonwealth Games Federation as she unseats Prince Imran

Scotland's Louise Martin has been elected President of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), defeating incumbent Prince Imran here today on her 69th birthday.

The CGF refused to reveal details of the vote but insidethegames understands that, in the end, despite predictions the election would go down to the wire, Martin's margin of victory was relatively comfortable.

The 67-year-old Malaysian, a member of the International Olympic Committee, who had taken over as CGF President from Jamaica's Mike Fennell four years ago, appeared to pay the price for a controversial attempt in 2013 to move the organisation's headquarters from London to Kuala Lumpur, a plan that was condemned by many countries, particularly in Africa and the Caribbean.

Martin, meanwhile, made great play of the leading role she had played in the success of last year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, widely hailed as the best in history.

Martin, the chair of SportScotland, had been vice-president of Glasgow 2014 and had visited 64 Commonwealth countries last year in the build-up to the Games, giving her a strong platform to start her campaign which ended with her becoming the first female President in the CGF's 85-year history.

Initiatives she promised during her presentation today included increased financial support for the 71 countries and territories who are members of the CGF and a new trust to help more countries compete in the Commonwealth Youth Games.

She would pay for this increased financial help partly by recruiting commercial partners as worldwide sponsors of the CGF.

In turn, Martin hopes it will attract more top athletes to take part in the Commonwealth Games.

"I want to make sure the best athletes in the Commonwealth make the Games the cornerstone of their calendars and that the cities are queuing up to bid for them," she said.

"To achieve everything I want costs money and as we know, our income is under extreme pressure from our expenditure.

"I believe the answer is to open our doors to commercial sponsorship and while it will be difficult I'm convinced that once we sign our first top-tier sponsor, others will follow."

Martin, honorary secretary of the CGF since 1999, a role due to be scrapped at the conclusion of this General Assembly, is a former swimmer who competed for Scotland at the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth and had managed the country's gymnastics team at Victoria 1994.

“From my earliest days competing as an athlete to my time serving the CGF Executive board, the Commonwealth sporting family has had a profound effect on my life," said Martin following her election which makes her only the second Scot to hold the position, following Sir Peter Heatly, President between 1982 and 1990.

"I am extremely proud and humbled to be elected as President of the CGF and it is my chance to give something back to the Movement that means so much to me.

“I believe that the time is right for a new style of leadership to ensure that together we can fully unlock our potential and deliver on the needs of CGAs (Commonwealth Games Associations) and our wider partners, especially in terms of maximising commercial opportunities.

"If we get this right, we can deliver enhanced revenues to support every CGA as well as Commonwealth sports development through greater investment.

“There is also so much more we can do to grow the profile of our great sporting Movement across the world to ensure that its unique identity is valued and our Games attract the best Commonwealth athletes, sponsors and, critically, future host cities.

"As someone with a proven track record of collaboration and delivery, as well as dedication and passion for the Movement, I am proud to have been elected by the CGAs who have shown they believe I am the right person to guide the CGF through the next stage of its Commonwealth journey and unlock the immense potential of our unique sporting Movement.”

In contrast to Martin, Prince Imran made no concrete proposals during his presentation, other than asking for the opportunity to be allowed to implement "Transformation 2022", the strategic review officially adopted here today and which will act as a road-map for the CGF over the next few years and which he has overseen.

"We have had our ups and downs," Prince Imran told delegates.

"It's been a great four years for me but we have got to this stage where we have a strategic plan going forward.

"I just hope you give me the opportunity to finish what we started.

"We have finally got on the starting blocks.

"Please let me finish this race."

Prince Imran defended his role two years ago in the attempt to move the CGF headquarters from London to Kuala Lumpur when members of staff were issued with redundancy notices before the decision had been formally approved by the General Assembly, who rejected the proposal.

"Many of you were upset but it wasn't my fault, it was the consultants who made the recommendation," Prince Imran told delegates.

"All I did was get the Malaysian Government to make us a strong financial offer."

Prince Imran's campaign was far more low-key than his rival's.

Martin had produced a manifesto, "Unlocking Our Potential", and lobbied delegates as they arrived here.

In contrast, Prince Imran appeared to do little lobbying.

"I hate politicking," he said at the start of his eight-minute presentation.

"So I must apologise to those whose hands I didn't shake."

Canada's Bruce Robertson and South Africa's Gideon Sam were re-elected as vice-presidents.

They will be joined by Kereyn Smith, secretary general of the New Zealand Olympic Committee, who got the third spot ahead of Scotland's Michael Cavanagh and Barbados' Sandra Osborne.

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