Exclusive: Leeds Met's £423,000 bill for ballet sponsor deal

LEEDS Metropolitan University has paid £423,000 to Northern Ballet over the last three years and is committed to another £225,000 more this year as part of its controversial spending programme on cultural and sporting partnerships.

Exclusive: 250,000 row over university private contracts

Leeds Met in crisis: Full coverage

More details have emerged on the scale of spending following a Freedom of Information request which also revealed that Leeds Met has spent 283,000 with the Irish Football Association (IFA) – including sponsoring the professional league in Northern Ireland.

Another 100,000 went to Brazilian Soccer Schools, run by Garforth Town football club owner Simon Clifford, with a further 50,000 to come this year.

The Black Dyke Band received 159,000 over the last three years and is set to receive in the region of 50,000 again this year.

The Yorkshire Post has previously revealed that Leeds Met had to agree to pay Leeds Carnegie rugby union club 8m to relinquish the university's controlling interest in the club.

Leeds Met has also committed huge sums to Yorkshire cricket including 14m for a new pavilion at Headingley.

The university is contractually tied-in to most of the spending, though its deal with the IFA came to a close this year and was not renewed. The Northern Ballet spending includes sponsoring a national tour of British cities considered key recruiting ground for potential students.

But at the same time, Leeds Met is faced with making significant cuts due to the squeeze on public expenditure.

Leeds Met's tie-up with Northern Ballet included putting former vice chancellor Simon Lee on the board, where he still remains. Mr Lee stepped down from running the university at the turn of the year after being confronted with allegations of bullying, which he denied.

A spokesman for Leeds Met said Mr Lee's position on the board was a matter for Northern Ballet.

Northern Ballet said Mr Lee was not paid for the role but did receive free tickets for opening night performances.

Former deputy vice chancellor Frank Griffiths, who blew the whistle on financial excess earlier this year, renewed his call for an external inquiry into Leeds Met and added: "Even without the 1m a year for eight years to Leeds Rugby they will have to decide on courses to close, staff to lay off and student numbers to be cut."

Leeds Met said the spending enhanced the university's brand and each of the recipients of cash had provided services for the university in return.