THE build-up to the Olympic Games in London has seen many pledges that the 'greatest show on earth' will benefit the whole of the UK.

But with the countdown to the global event now well under way, the financial dividend for Scotland looks far from stellar.

New figures uncovered by the Sunday Herald show that public sector expenditure on the Olympics from the UK Treasury pot between 2005-6 and 2009-10 is more than £2.6 billion (£2669 million). Over the same time, the direct spend in Scotland as a result of London 2012 was less than £1m. So in terms of public-sector spend in Scotland as a result of the Olympics, the country made 0.04% of what the rest of the UK reaped.

The statistics compiled by Scottish Government officials cast serious doubts on how much Scotland is really going to benefit from the Olympics. Concerns have already been raised over the diversion of around £114m of lottery funding to support the Games, which would have been used to fund charities, sports and the arts north of the Border.

Margo MacDonald, Independent MSP for Lothian, said it was "nonsense" that the whole of the UK would benefit from the Olympics.

She said: "We lost millions that would have gone into the development of community sport which is about training coaches, improving grounds, paying for clubs and for kids to go for athletic meets or swimming matches and so on.

"For the same kids who may well have lost out on improvements to the premises of their club hall where they do their own sport, it is unlikely they will be going to games with their parents, as it is exorbitantly expensive."

She added: "I hope that the people who go enjoy themselves thoroughly – and there will be nobody cheering louder than me if a lot of the Scots athletes manage to win medals. There are all sorts of things about it that I can enjoy, but at what price?"

Last month the Westminster government agreed to release a one-off "Olympic funding" payment of £16m to the Scottish Government after it was argued the public spending on regeneration in London should have generated extra payments to the devolved nations.

Despite the financial concerns, Sports Minister Shona Robison believes both the Olympics, as well as the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, will help put Scotland on the path to a "healthier and more successful future".

"We want to deliver a legacy that is both ambitious and will capitalise on this once in a generation opportunity of hosting these major international sporting events," she added.

Here, we examine what benefits the Olympics might bring to Scotland.


ONE of the spin-offs from the Games that Scotland is hoping to benefit from is the idea that tourists visiting the Olympics may incorporate a trip north of the Border or that holidaymakers opting for a staycation will steer clear of the busy southeast of England and venture elsewhere in the UK.

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said the country was "well-placed" to benefit from the Olympic Games, with research indicating 30% of London residents were more likely to visit other parts of Britain while the Games were on.

He said: "The south of England already represents a healthy proportion of Scotland's visitors, so we are already extremely active in pursuing this market."

Tourism officials are also hoping to lure visitors from both home and abroad to Edinburgh's world-famous festivals, which will take place in between the Olympics and Paralympics.

Tom Jenkins, executive director of the European Tour Operators Association, said it was likely the Olympics would have little detrimental impact on domestic tourists who would normally opt to visit Scotland anyway.

But he added: "When it comes to incoming visitors from abroad, I think very few people will come to the Olympic Games in London and then go on to Scotland ... we don't expect it to happen."

Jenkins also said those visiting the Olympics were likely to primarily be there for the sport. "These people aren't necessarily uninterested in what Scotland has to offer ... that is not why they have come here," he said.

"The ability of receptive nations to fantasise about the nature of sports visitors is almost infinite. Spend money on the marketing campaigns by all means, but the idea this will spill over into Scotland is a joke."


ORGANISERS of the London Olympics say it is providing a vital economic stimulus for the UK, generating around £7 billion worth of contracts for businesses. According to figures from Scottish Enterprise, more than 4200 Scottish companies registered to compete for Games-related supply chain opportunities.

To date, 117 Scottish companies have secured 158 contracts. The agency says there are other contracts which will have been awarded outwith this and a conservative estimate for the value of the contracts won by Scottish businesses is in the order of "tens of millions of pounds".

Among the major winners has been Aberdeen-based FirstGroup, which secured the contract to run bus services for spectators at the Olympics worth about £20m and Glasgow-based temporary power supply company Aggreko, which won a £37m contract.

However, Garry Clark, head of policy and public affairs at the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said the numbers were "slightly disappointing" in terms of the successful bids from Scottish firms so far.

He said: "There are issues of geography and Scotland has a higher proportion of small and medium-sized businesses than England, so geography may be a factor in terms of the ability to fulfil some of the contracts that may be available.

"What is also important is a number of Scottish businesses have been involved in the bidding processes for London 2012. A lot of those businesses – even if they haven't been successful – are then using that as a learning process to hopefully get some successful bids in terms of the Commonwealth Games in a couple of years time."

He added: "It was always going to be fairly limited in terms of what the direct benefit to Scotland would be. Obviously there are going to be some events in Scotland, for example the football tournament has a number of games at Hampden, but apart from that in terms of the economic benefit most of it will obviously go to London and the southeast of England."


WHILE a flagship Olympic legacy programme will pump £135m into grassroots sports in England, sports governing bodies in Scotland have received no extra funding boost directly from the Games.

Nigel Holl, chief executive of Scottish Athletics, said the Olympic legacy for Scotland would not be "as obvious" as from what is anticipated to follow from the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

He said: "Glasgow 2014 is going to have a very significant impact on the participation side, the grassroots involvement at sport, because it is going to feel that more closer, more Scottish. As a nation we will be that much more involved than with London, to be honest.

"There will be opportunity for people to get tickets so you can be there in person, whereas come London the majority of us are going to be watching on television."

He added: "With the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games, we would love it to be a u-turn moment in terms of physical activity in the nation. But if actually what we are doing is slowing the trend down and stopping it dropping for a bit and inspiring a whole next generation to stay more active, that in itself is success."

Kirsten Phillips, of Scottish Swimming, said it was hoped interest generated by the Olympics would boost investment in the sport.

"We are generating interest and we would look for people to want to learn to swim," she said. "We are trying to make sure swimming does become an entitlement for Scotland in Scottish schools which is something we don't have up here yet."

With the Paralympics taking place between August 29 and September 9, Gavin Macleod, chief executive of Scottish Disability Sport, is hoping the television coverage will encourage more people with a disability to participate in sport.

He added: "We are also getting the opportunity to present and speak to some of the headline sponsors that are working with the Paralympics in London as well."


THE majority of the Olympic events will be taking place in and around London, but there are 10 venues outwith the capital. In Scotland, eight football matches will take place at Glasgow's Hampden Park, in both the men and women's competitions.

Three countries are having their pre-Games training camps north of the Border, with Zambia and Namibia in Glasgow and the Cameroon team based in Aberdeen.

However, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) said it was unable to provide a breakdown of how many Scots have secured tickets for Olympic events in London, or details of how many tickets have been sold for the Hampden matches.

Scott Taylor, chief executive of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said it was planning for the matches to be "extremely busy", with ticket sales so far for the overall football competition the highest in any Olympics to date.

"We firmly believe that people will see this as a real opportunity to experience the Olympics," he said. "Previously they may not have had the chance to do so or this will be their only chance in a lifetime, when it is on British soil and when it takes place here in Scotland."

He said around £270,000 of funding had been made available from the Olympics to bring the "look and feel" of the Games to the city, through decorations such as giant Olympic rings and banners.

And he added Glasgow would also benefit from winning the bid to host an international convention on science, education and medicine in sport, which is held before every Olympics and expected to attract up to 5000 delegates.

He added: "Glasgow is already looking at the right side of £6m in direct economic spend in the city and that is a very conservative estimate."

Pete Wishart MP, sport spokesman for the SNP, said Scotland should get behind the Olympic Games and make the most of the opportunities it presents.

But he added: "We have to conclude the legacy that is going to be put in place for Scotland has been pretty disappointing – we were promised a Games that would benefit the whole of the UK.

"I remember parliamentary debates which said there would be a whole host of training facilities available for some of the nations that were coming to London for Olympic teams and sporting events would be scattered throughout the UK.


Cultural events will be taking part across Scotland as part of a programme for the Olympics, some of which are being supported by the Legacy Trust UK, a charity set up to create projects to celebrate London 2012 which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund, UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and Arts Council England.

One of the most high profile will be the Speed of Light, which will see hundreds of runners in special lightsuits create a display at Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh every night for three weeks in August. It has been given funding of £750,000 from the Legacy Trust UK, with £295,000 contributed by Creative Scotland.

Another four projects are being part funded with just over £2.1m from the Legacy Trust UK. The Olympic Torch will also travel through Scotland before the games begin.

However, at the same time, £114m of lottery money has been diverted from Scottish good causes over the past few years to support London 2012. That includes £73m from the Big Lottery fund, which makes awards to community groups and health, education and environment projects and more than £12m from what was the Scottish Arts Council.

The Scottish Government has said it is continuing to press for the turn of lottery money diverted from Scottish good causes.

Martin Sime, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, said the decision to use it to fund the Olympics was "ridiculous".

He said: "Money was being taken away from Scottish charities to fund a London Olympic project. There must have been other ways they could have borrowed the money or got the money to do the Olympics, why raid charities' budgets?

"Don't take money out of the poorest parts of the UK and the parts that are further away from benefiting from the Olympics in the first place."

Sime said the legacy of the Olympics in Scotland seemed to be "rather marginal". He added: "People are talking about a boost to tourism but then I'm sure there were other ways we could have spent that money that would have delivered much more central benefits.

"These are the London Olympics, fair enough, I hope they do well with them. But it is not really evident how Scotland will benefit from that investment."

'Very few people will come to the Olympic Games in London then go on to Scotland'

David Beckham, left and centre, was one of a host of high-profile Brits drafted in to help London win the Olympic Games Photographs: John Gichigi/Getty Images

'There must have been other ways they could have got the money to do the Olympics .. why raid charities' budgets?'