Scotland's golden decade must shine

Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games

Interview with Doug Gillon in The Herald

THE timing could hardly have seemed worse as we sat with Paul Bush yesterday morning.

We met the EventScotland chief operating officer to discuss a golden decade of Scottish sport, kicking off with the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow . . . just as news broke of the potential meltdown of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

It seemed the bleakest of climates in which to be depicting sport as an economic saviour. In a recession? Surely not? Yet he insists that sport and event tourism can blunt the edge of the recession.

Bush was Scotland’s chef de mission at the last two Commonwealth Games, but is now attempting to prop up the Scottish economy by promoting international sport and cultural events.

Four years next week, the Ryder Cup will tee off in Scotland, shortly following the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. “It’s the start of Scotland’s golden decade,” he says, “and we must capitalise on the success of those, show some vision and aspiration, dream a little bit.”

But recessionary cuts could ruin the fledgling industry, which since March 2003 has invested £19m through EventScotland, generating some £218m of economic impact and leveraging a further £45m from local authorities. This has bankrolled 246 cultural events and 172 sports ones. But there will be no resting on laurels. “We have an opportunity, but must plan now,” he says. “What are we going to do between 2015 and 2022? The aspiration around a Tour de France in 2017 is realistic. We have to shoot that high.”

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