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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007, 19:55 GMT
FA Cup tickets spending criticism
Liverpool's Steven Gerrard celebrates after the FA Cup final
Liverpool's Steven Gerrard celebrates after the FA Cup final
The Welsh Assembly Government spent 17,000 on tickets for the 2006 FA Cup final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, it has emerged.

It was part of nearly 35,000 spent on corporate hospitality for 14 guests.

An after-dinner speaker cost 6,000, nearly 1,500 was spent on a meal and 1,700 on a helicopter.

Tories said they were "staggered," but the assembly government said it since had brought in "stringent changes" following "long-standing concerns".

The figures emerged in a written answer from Enterprise Minister Andrew Davies to a question from Nick Bourne, leader of the assembly Conservatives.

Mr Bourne said: "I always knew it was becoming more and more expensive to watch football but this has left me speechless.

Following long-standing concerns, I instituted stringent changes
Enterprise Minister Andrew Davies

"While there is a place for corporate hospitality in promoting links between business and government, I am staggered by the amount of money spent on tickets to this event."

A previous statement by Mr Davies explained that 14 guests involved in financial services had hospitality at the Vale of Glamorgan Hotel the night before the game.

Mr Davies said that the assembly government expected to be able to announce 100 new jobs soon "as a result of our engagement with this group" and was "actively pursuing a further 100 new jobs".

He told the Western Mail that "elements of expenditure" for the event were "unacceptable".

Mr Davies said that "occurring as it did just after the merger between the Assembly Government and the Welsh Development Agency (they) are reminiscent of some of the inappropriate attitudes to the use of public money that existed within parts of the WDA.

"Following long-standing concerns, I instituted stringent changes last year to ensure that any expenditure on events such as this are both proportionate and appropriate."

Liverpool 3-3 West Ham (aet)
13 May 06 |  FA Cup
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