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British Basketball are facing their latest funding crisis after revealing they need to come up with another £500,000 to be able to field all of the country’s eight senior and age-group teams over the coming year.
British Basketball Federation CEO Lisa Wainwright has gone public with the news to the Press Association last week, as all GB teams at Under-16, Under-18, Under-20 and Senior level could face being withdrawn from competitions if a source of income is not found.
“From April onward, we have about £100,000 guaranteed via the British Basketball League (from the license fee),” Wainwright said. “We need £1 million to fund our eight teams for a year. That’s between 100 athletes.
“If we don’t find this money, the teams will be suspended for two years and then demoted to the bottom rung in Europe. It will take about eight years to get back to where we are now.”
The urgency comes from the upcoming Great Britain Senior Men’s FIBA World Cup qualifying campaign; the BBF need minimum £70,000 to fund the June/July window and should it not materialise will be forced to withdraw from the competition.
A funding crisis could be facing British basketball.
4 years ago UK Sport withdrew funding for basketball, based on the teams lack of Olympic success. Now sport leaders say they could run out of cash by the end of March. pic.twitter.com/DfgKD4jcht
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) February 19, 2018
Withdrawal from international competitions come with extreme consequences from FIBA; penalties include fines of up to €50,000 (up to €30,000 for juniors), suspension of the federation for up to 24 months, and then on re-entering competitions beginning from Division C once again – only being able to get promoted to Division B should there be an available place.
The failure to find funding for the men in June/July will have a cascading effect that will see the suspension and sanctions kick in, seeing all GB teams forcibly removed from competitions immediately.
It is only the second year the British Basketball Federation is responsible for all age-group teams, following the home nations rescinding their individual FIBA memberships to all unite as Great Britain under the BBF as of 1st October, 2016.
And though, particularly in FIBA’s eyes, this was a positive step forward, it does mean the financial burden of supporting another four teams now falls on the BBF instead of the home nations – who have access to more capital.
Memo to @uksport I have bought my lottery tickets every week since 1994 to support the likes of Basketball every bit as much as much smaller, niche and elitist sports where, dare I say it, medals and success are possibly easier to come by. Funding model needs to be redesigned
— Brendan gallagher (@gallagherbren) February 17, 2018
Though Basketball Wales has agreed to make a financial contribution – despite having next to no income – Hoopsfix understands basketballscotland have been less forthcoming with aid, despite having always budgeted for their ‘own’ teams in previous years. basketballscotland did not respond to a request for comment.
Basketball England, via Sport England, have supported the age-group programmes through 2017 and Hoopsfix understands that Sport England – who continue to do all they can to help, despite their responsibility being grassroots sport, not the elite – have an agreement-in-principle for a further £150,000 for the junior teams in 2018 via Basketball England’s allocated talent funding.
External to the junior programmes, Sport England were approached by the BBF in November for emergency funding of £150,000 through until the end of this financial year (March 2018) which has helped fund the Senior teams’ current qualifying windows.
Sport England say the money comes on a condition that the governing body finds alternative sources of investment, having no intention of committing additional funds. Their support does not solve the now-pressing issue of GB Senior Men’s June/July window, which will more than likely come down to UK Sport.
With the situation dire, a Westminster debate to discuss basketball funding has been scheduled for Tuesday in an attempt to draw attention to the sport’s plight. Members of the public are being encouraged to contact their local representatives to drum up support.
A spokesperson for UK Sport – the high performance funding body – said to the Press Association its remit is to fund sports with the “best prospect of winning medals” and basketball has not provided any such evidence that it can do so at Tokyo 2020 or Paris 2024. However, they did add that the agency will continue to review their policies.
British Basketball on the brink as funding crisis threatens national sides https://t.co/spFo90y4XA strong words on UK Sport/Sport England's funding priorities – plenty of ££ for several sports we don't play much but none for one we do?
— Matt Slater (@mjshrimper) February 16, 2018
GB Senior Women’s star and WNBA Champion with the Minnesota Lynx, Temi Fagbenle has come out to denounce the government bodies for their under-funding of the sport.
“When I see sports like modern pentathlon and skeleton, which aren’t popular in inner-city or working-class communities, get millions of pounds, I wonder what sort of world the powers that be are living in and what agenda they are trying to push,’ said Fagbenle.
“I feel like they are literally trying to rip the GB shirts off my and my team-mates’ backs.
“Just look at the athletes on the basketball teams — a lot of us are from ethnic minorities and/or grew up in working-class households.
“The youth from these groups, and young people in general, aren’t inspired by obscure sports that are completely alien to them, they are inspired by athletes they can relate with.
“Basketball has the power to attract people of all backgrounds but without a rapid change in how we are funded and, subsequently, publicly viewed in Great Britain, this great power will be completely lost.”
Having been initially funded from inception in 2006 through to London 2012 by UK Sport, British Performance Basketball had their funding immediately cut to zero post-2012, before being given a one year reprieve by UK Sport after a successful appeal.
After missing pre-agreed targets for their further 3-year conditional funding, British Performance Basketball was once against left searching for money in 2014.
Sport England then agreed to provide a £1.18 million bailout to support the men, women’s, Under 20 men and Under 20 women’s teams from November 2014 through to March 2017. Following that, British Basketball sourced £1million in National Lottery funding to see them through until March of this year.
The news of British Basketball’s funding crisis has been picked by a number of mainstream press outlets, including the BBC, Daily Mail, The Times, and The Telegraph; though the budget deficit figure they quote (£900,000) is based on an ideal scenario, not the minimum amount the programmes will need to function.
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