- National Teams
British Basketball have had their funding completely withdrawn by UK Sport after missing mutually-agreed targets set by the funding body in 2013.
GB chiefs have vowed to do all they can to overturn the decision, which leaves the sport in limbo with important EuroBasket qualifying campaigns this summer. It was an easy decision for UK Sport, who only back medal hopes using their “no compromise” approach, saying Great Britain’s chances of podium success are next to none.
“We’ve looked at our investment in each and every sport and assessed their medal potential for Rio or Tokyo, so the decision today to withdraw funding from basketball is based on the fact that there is no possibility now of the sport qualifying for Rio, and certainly not medalling in Rio,” said UK Sport CEO Liz Nicholl.
“The chances of them medalling in Tokyo are quite remote; the investment that we make has all got to be working at realistic medal potential in either Rio or Tokyo and so the decision is to withdraw funding.”
British Basketball was given a one year reprieve by UK Sport, after successfully appealing against losing all their funding post-2012; but the following three years of investment through toward the 2016 Olympics in Rio was reliant on ‘fulfilment of strict performance criteria’ that they did not meet, qualification for both the men and women’s World Championships.
With little commercial revenue; the Standard Life title sponsorship deal finished at the end of last year, British Basketball will have to find new sources of income as soon as possible.
It remains to be seen what it means in real terms; last year ex-Performance Director Chris Spice said the U20s and Futures would be the first to go, but British Basketball Chairman Roger Moreland said it is too early to say exactly what will happen.
“We’ve got to look at what the funding is that we have and put together the best programme that we can this year primarily, with a view to qualify for EuroBasket, because we’re still on the road to Rio, and we still want to be on the road to Tokyo,” said Moreland.
“We’ve just got to take stock and see what it means.”
Moreland wouldn’t go as far as to say the Senior teams will be the priority above everything else, but said it is their performances that ultimately determine funding from UK Sport.
The Chairman says British Basketball does have money in reserves, but was unable to go into specific amounts, saying the organisation has “other commitments as well as delivering the programme”.
“We’ve been prudent enough to make provision for instances like this but it clearly won’t be the same as running a full programme, so we’ve really got to take stock and prioritise,” he added.
UK Sport remained positive of British Basketball as an organisation, saying they could not have spent the money they have received in any better way but instead faced significant limitations with so many of Great Britain’s basketball players being based abroad.
“I think British Basketball have done as much as they possibly could have done but there are some significant limitations in terms of access to athletes,” said Nicholl.
“…(with these limitations) the indications are that there isn’t sufficient time to develop a team to a standard it can perform in the major competitions to give us confidence it can make this journey through to medal potential in Tokyo.”
British Basketball will be allowed to appeal the decision and UK Sport did say that funding is reviewed annually and if basketball does show medal potential over the next 12 months they will happily reinstate funding.
The UK Sport CEO added: “If the sport is going to do well on the Olympic stage, it first has to do incredibly well on the Eurobasket stage.”
If British Basketball’s appeal is not successful the sport needs “to regroup and really think about what it wants to achieve at an international level and how it might really work together to further develop the participation base in the UK, the talent base in the UK, the competition structure in the UK, so that in fact our basketball players here can develop their talent and prove their potential for future Olympics,” concluded Nicholl.
“We will do everything we possibly can to change this situation, that’s what we did last year,” finished Moreland. “I actually think that what’s required here is a real root and branch look at the funding system itself. It’s not just about UK Sport, here we are with a sport like basketball with the size of it, the success that it’s had and as a team sport and as an emerging sport, it simply doesn’t seem to fit the bill.
“If you’re going to invest in a sport that has the potential to win medal in the future at international championships, you have to run with it over time, you can’t make a decision based on one year of continued funding.”
Basketball was one of seven sports to have funding completely withdrawn, joining synchronised swimming, water polo, weightlifting, volleyball and Paralympic sports; wheelchair fencing, goalball and five-a-side football.
Eighteen sports saw funding increases, including the likes of canoeing, equestrian, fencing, gymnastics, hockey, judo, modern pentathlon, shooting, taekwondo and triathlon.
Despite funding being cut by UK Sport, funding from Sport England for the grassroots has been increased as announced two weeks ago, with a further £2.3million being directed into independent providers.