50% dip in NITB grant for Foyle Cup

A FIFTY per cent drop in the money doled out by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) Event Fund for the Foyle Cup this year relates only to a portion of the predicted total budget for the competition, according to the Tourism Minister.

Arlene Foster said the NITB will only pay out against “eligible expenditure” and that the organisation has confirmed that their support only relates to a portion of the Foyle Cup budget.

It’s not the first time the youth football tournament, which this year will attract Nottingham Forest, Norwich City, Rangers and Aberdeen to Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013, has been hit by funding problems.

Back in 2011 two assessors controversially rejected a Foyle Cup application for a tourist board grant after separately scoring it poorly across ten key criteria.

The Tourism Minister eventually announced a one-off funding package for the 2011 Milk and Foyle Cup tournaments following a decision of the NI Executive.

Now she has been quizzed by Foyle MLA Mark H. Durkan about funding for the 2013 competition.

He asked her to “outline the reason for the further 50 percent reduction in funding for the Foyle Cup Tournament for the second consecutive year.”

She replied: “A key condition of Government funding is the principle of additionality. NITB has assessed that the grant offered is the minimum level of Government assistance required to enable the event to take place.

“I would advise you that grants can only be paid out against eligible expenditure and NITB has confirmed to me that their support only relates to a portion of the predicted total Foyle Cup budget.”

She also said that a study of the competition was conducted by Cogent in 2011 after the Executive had intervened to provide the one-off funding package mentioned above.

Ms Foster stated: “The report undertaken in July 2011, as a condition of the Northern Ireland Executive funding, found a possible return to the Northern Ireland economy from the event of £269,711 and an economic return to the secondary economy of £541,694. These figures are correct and therefore stand.

“This figure has no bearing in relation to the current funding application or award received through the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.”

But she said the NITB grant was not based on the economic appraisal but on key tourism criteria such as visitor numbers and spend, and representing Northern Ireland as a tourism destination, as the scheme is designed to increase tourism.

“The scheme also reflects the four main principles which underpin financial support. These principles cover additionality, leveraging of other funding, partnership working and significance,” she explained.

Back in 2011 when the Foyle Cup applied to the NITB Events Fund it did not score well across the ten key criteria to be eligible for funding.

Speaking two years ago the Minsiter said: “NITB took a holistic approach to scoring and events must score well in each criteria, and demonstrate how they met the criteria to be awarded points.

“The ten key criteria are; Product and Customer Fit, Visitor Numbers, Economic Impact, Media Impact, Event Viability and Management Experience, Capacity for Growth, NI Brand, Environmental Sustainability, Social Impact, and Universal Accessibility.”