(P106) Croney Carter gets Sport England job

by Vivek Chaudhary, The Guardian Sport
27 November 2002

Patrick Carter, the millionaire businessman who helped salvage the Wembley stadium project, will today be unveiled as the new chairman of Sport England, despite ooncerns that he is too close to the government and that he does not know enough about sport.

He replaces Trevor Brooking after the former West Ham midfielder stood down from the part-time post last month. The appointment is seen as a political move by the government to oversee reform of Sport England and help attract private investment for projects.

Carter, 56, has been given a mandate to increase private sector involvement in funding and improve efficiency to ensure that Sport England meets its government targets.

Seen as a troubleshooter for sport, Carter has already been drafted in to help a number of high-profile projects which had run into financial problems.

In addition to working on the financial report for Wembley he was involved in overseeing the finances of this year's Commonwealth Games. He also assessed the viability of Picketts Lock for the 2005 World Athletics Championships, recommending that a cheaper site should be found or the project killed off.

Carter is seen as an expert in public-private finance but there are concerns within Sport England over his willingess to fight for extra funding. He will be responsible for streamlining the organisation, resulting in job losses, and takes over at a time when it faces a £100m shortfall because of the decrease in lottery ticket sales.

"The government will be very happy but there are concerns over how willing he will be to fight Sport England's corner when it comes to funding," said a Sport England official who did not want be named.

"Carter is a businessman and there are those who say that he does not like sport. Major changes are taking place within Sport England. There are concerns over funding and we need somebody who will be able to stand up to the government and represent sport."

Patrick Carter: links with Labour

Carter has also been given the brief of changing Sport England's role from an organisation that manages funding programmes and making it little more than a financier and supervisor of projects.

He is a close friend with the foreign secretary Jack Straw - both were prefects at Brentwood School in 1963 - and was best man at both of his weddings.

Carter made his fortune through Westminster Health Care, the company he founded and which went on to become Britain's biggest care-home operator. In 1999 he received more than £8m for his stake. He is also a former non-executive director of the prison service, where he was involved in a number of initiatives.

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Last updated 27/11/02;