LEGACY THE KEY PLANK IN LYON DOSSIER

Basketball’s three home nations have opted against forming a single British governing body for the sport, despite pressure to unite as part of a deal to secure a place for Great Britain’s teams at next year’s Olympic Games.

While England Basketball – and its counterparts in Scotland and Wales – have agreed to closer co-operation, their unwillingness to agree to a full merger will leave FIBA’s board members with a dilemma when they convene on Sunday in Lyon to decide whether to grant the hosts an automatic berth at London 2012.

The international governing body has demanded assurances that there will be a meaningful legacy post-Games, including an overhaul in the way the sport is run in the UK.

In a wide-ranging dossier, which has been submitted ahead of the vote, it is understood that a number of ideas have been put forward including the establishment of a new professional women’s league – and a possible merger of the sport’s performance arm, which runs the GB sides, and the British Basketball League.

Time will be required, admits British Basketball Federation chairman Bill McInnes, to implement the entire plan. And he concedes that FIBA will still need to take a certain leap of faith if they choose to say yes.

“There are two points: have our teams done enough to be competitive in the Olympic Games? I think the answer to that is yes,” said the former GB captain.  “I don’t think the teams could have done much more than being in this year’s European finals, the year before the Olympics.

“The other decision is on the legacy, giving ourselves an opportunity to build on what has been done. It’s not just been about performance. There have been lots of other plans to improve the profile of the sport and to hopefully build success in the future.”

The thorny issue of merging three long-standing national bodies was always likely to prove politically sensitive. “There was no appetite to join up,” said one senior source involved in brokering a compromise between the trio.

Worryingly, the sport’s key powerbroker, FIBA secretary-general Patrick Baumann, has re-affirmed in an article in MVP that the trio cannot continue to retain independent status post-2012, while fielding a Great Britain team at the highest level.

However there are now ample ties that bind until the Rio Olympics of 2016. All that is needed is a yes vote from FIBA’s 22 powerbrokers which, McInnes hints, might unlock the public and commercial funding which accompanies the golden ticket to the Games.

“That job’s not complete in a number of ways,” he said. “But we really need a bit more support going forward to make that achievable.”

Effectively, British basketball is asking for another four-year grace period to maintain that anomaly and attempt to profit from the exposure the Olympics will bring. On Sunday, we’ll learn if that fudge is sweet enough.

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