Monday, January 27, 2014

Exclusive: Prince Tunku drops proposal to relocate Commonwealth Games Federation to Kuala Lumpur

By Duncan Mackay at the Best Western Premier Du Sentral in Kuala Lumpur

A proposal to move the Commonwealth Games Federation from London to Kuala Lumpur has been dropped following opposition from several countries ©Getty ImagesJanuary 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 company that makes the James Bond movies, but the lease is up later this year.

Britain's Sports Minister Helen Grant has told the CGF that a subsidy 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 ability to remain in London, which in a new study published last week came out as the world's most expensive city.

Prince Tunku Imran, seen here at the start of the Queen's Baton Relay for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, has warned that a decision must be taken on where to locate the headquarters ©Getty ImagesPrince Tunku Imran, seen here at the start of the Queen's Baton Relay for Glasgow 2014, has warned a decision must be taken on where to locate the headquarters of the CGF
©Getty Images


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.

Contact the writer of this story at duncan.mackay@insidethegames.biz

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