GB Basketball secures emergency funding from Sport England

By Dan RoanBBC sports editor
GB Basketball secures emergency funding from Sport England

The immediate future of Britain's elite men and women's basketball teams has been secured thanks to emergency public funding.

GB Basketball will receive £1.18m from Sport England after the government intervened to help the sport.

The money will support the men's and women's senior and under-20 teams.

"Sport England's investment provides a vital platform on which to take the sport forward on and off the court," said GB Basketball's Roger Moreland.

The organisation's performance chairman added: "The last few months have been tough for everyone involved with basketball in this country.

"The Government's sports minister (Helen Grant) has listened carefully to our case and I would like to thank her for the role she has played in brokering a solution.

"We look forward to building a better future togethe

The news will come as a major relief to GB Basketball after UK Sport's decision to scrap £7m of funding in February left its elite teams close to extinction.

That cut came as a result of Britain's men's and women's teams managing only one win from 10 matches at the London 2012 Olympics.

GB basketball 'future in doubt'

In August, Britain's men failed to qualify for the 2015 EuroBasket Championshipsexternal-link amid claims the funding cuts had hampered preparations.

r for a sport that provides opportunity and aspiration for young people across Great Britain."

GB player Kieron Achara said members of the squad were living off £15 a day, had to sleep in beds too short for them, and were forced to take early-morning flights on budget airlines the day after late-night matches in order to save money,

In addition, Britain's biggest basketball star, Miami Heat's Luol Deng, warned that the sport's elite teams were close to folding.

But, thanks to this new funding, British Basketball will now be able to send a Great Britain women's team to next year's European Championship after they qualified in June.

Two years on from the London Olympics, the Government had come under pressure to help broker a deal to help a sport played by nearly 218,000 people each week and which is now the second biggest team sport among 14-16 year olds in the UK.

"Basketball plays a valuable role in the drive to grow grassroots participation because it has the potential to reach young people and more diverse communities in a way that other sports don't," said Sport England chair Nick Bitel.

"We therefore need to do what we can to support and capitalise on the value basketball can bring."

The funding will contribute to the travel and coaching costs for the teams competing in international competition, while talent development and coaching assistance will come from UK Sport in a bid to grow participation.

Minister for Sport Helen Grant said: "I am delighted that Sport England and UK Sport have responded to my call to see what more we can do to support basketball in Britain.

"The sport has a huge potential to grow and I want there to be a route for young people taking up basketball in this country to get to the top.

UK Sport to consult public on funding

"GB Basketball understands that with this funding and support it has to step up, but I am confident that the sport will do that."

The investment comes with new and stronger conditions and targets around the governance of the sport, while UK Sport will look to address the root causes of basketball's underperformance against its targets in previous years.

The news comes after the BBC revealed that UK Sport was to reconsider its 'no compromise' approach to funding elite sport.

The government agency is to launch a public consultation for the first time to decide its future.

UK Sport invests £100m of National Lottery and government money into high-performance sport each year, and its medals-based policy has underpinned Britain's recent Olympic and Paralympic success.

But there has been criticism of this method, and the review has been welcomed by sports such as basketball that have suffered funding cuts.

The is the first time Sport England has funded elite sport, and will give hope to the likes of volleyball and table tennis that have also had their funding slashed.