APPEAL QUANDARY ON TABLE

Roger Moreland 568The board of British Basketball will meet in London on Monday to decide whether to launch an appeal against the decision to strip the Great Britain teams of their Lottery funding.

UK Sport is expected to hear any initial protests against their latest round of cuts next Friday with basketball among a number who were dropped from their list of Olympic sports receiving financial help.

Following a wave of support within the game, and outside, British Basketball chiefs have already publically fought their corner, accusing the agency of short-termism and an inherent bias against team sports.

But chairman Roger Moreland has signalled that any move to lodge a formal counter-action may be more complex than it appears.

“There’s a difference between an appeal and an informal representation,” he said.

“An appeal comes after but that’s when it would go to a Sports Dispute Resolution Panel. And then it’s about UK Sport’s decision process. But there’s a need not to just focus on that but a need at a political level to look at the whole funding strategy because there’s a gap and we’ve fallen right down it.”

His argument is backed up by a report from a Lord’s Select Committee last year that suggested there is an in-built bias against team sports and emerging sports with the UK Sport funding system.

Various figures have also suggested a wider issue faced by basketball with the global level of competition compared to sports like rowing and sailing giving it an in-built disadvantage when being assessed for elite potential.

While it is understood that UK Sport look unfavourably on the number of British players based overseas, and their consequent lack of a year-round international structure.

“Basketball is a global game,” Moreland counters. “The players play all over the world. If you look at the 24 teams at EuroBasket, where their players play. France had about two-third abroad. Lithuania three-quarters.

“That just says it’s not a good factor in assessment. It just says to me that (UK Sport) want multi-medal sports which are individually-based.”

With prior main backers Standard Life ending their deal at the end of 2013, British Basketball will now prioritise finding a new sponsor to help plug any gap.

But should their appeal fall on deaf ears, it will – Moreland confirmed – throw the ability to insure NBA duo Luol Deng and Joel Freeland for this summer’s EuroBasket qualifiers into some doubt.

Inevitably, and despite some cash reserves, the board will have to consider all options in light of UK Sports’ abandonment.

“We have to look at things carefully,” he said. “But what I would say that anybody that loses in one swoop the £1.6 million they’re expecting each year, you’re not going to be able to deliver the same type of programme as before.

“We wouldn’t mind if a philanthropist who’s a basketball fan coming forward to go ‘this journey looks great, let’s get on board.’ But we need to diversify our funding to avoid the type of reliance we’ve had on UK Sport funding. But in the short-term it does create a challenge.”

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