Government Should Not Risk Savers’ Money To Fund Football Or Opaque Commercial Deals Says Together Gibraltar

Following the Government’s reply to their questions regarding the new GFA stadium, Together Gibraltar says they are “dismayed” by the Government's response.

A statement from Together Gibraltar follows below:

It has been opaque and deliberately sketchy  when presenting the deal, it has not properly explained the detail when prompted by  opposition parties, and it is now using dubious arguments to convince the people of  Gibraltar that this is the right way to use massive public funds levied by the GSB – an  institution many Gibraltarians have entrusted with their hard-earned savings. 

The Government’s PR states, in a nutshell, that Mr. Bossano knows best and should  not have to clarify further. With many businesses struggling and the Brexit issue still  unresolved, the public are expected to take on trust that the government should put  their savings at risk with no further elaboration. This is especially worrying at a time  of great uncertainty in global markets, rampant inflation, and impending recession  across western nations. 

The Chief Minister is telling us we should support this initiative because it is “good for  football”. Together Gibraltar, however, believes that GSB funds should be invested in  a way that is good for the savings of the Gibraltarians, not football. Why should the  return on this investment be “small but meaningful”? What does “meaningful” mean  in the context of providing a loan for a business project? The government needs to  stop treating the public as fools, and refrain from using Orwellian language in  reference to this deal. There is no “sponsorship,” and there is no such thing as  meaningful or meaningless profits in a business loan. This is a business loan, and a  simple issue of pounds, pence and profits. 

Government has also provided zero justification as to why the stadium requires a  capacity of 8000 when the current stadium hardly sells out for the most attractive  international matches, let alone local games. From a sporting point of view, an  excessively large stadium that appears empty does not contribute to create an  attractive footballing spectacle, on the contrary, it dampens the moods of crowds and  frustrates supporters. 

Also baffling is why the proposed retail and housing units will be owned and  managed by a football association. If these developments are such a good  investment as to warrant public "sponsorship", they should remain within government  ownership or be put out to tender as is normal for any publicly funded development. 

Together Gibraltar are not opposed to investing in our community but it believes that  such an exorbitant investment should have come in a way that is forthcoming,  transparent and after consultation and public debate. At a time in which public  services are being slashed, basic infrastructures are either non-existent (like the  promised sewage treatment plant) or in disrepair (roads, housing estates, touristic  infrastructure), and the housing list continues to grow, the least this Government  could do is consult the community on what its priorities are. Instead, what we’re  seeing is more of the typical lack of transparency with a new, largely unknown  network of companies already embedded in the deal. 

That the government considers this investment zero-risk is irresponsible, and  testament to their arrogance. To pretend they can simply avoid scrutiny because this  investment is about football and has the green light from Sir Joe is an insult to this  community.