British Basketball is to receive £1.18 million from Sport England over the next three years, it has been revealed, to safeguard the future of the Great Britain national teams at senior and under-20 level.

It comes with some strings attached. As part of the agreement, British Basketball must raise £592,000 for itself, a sum to be largely obtained through commercial income or from contributions from the other home nations.

It follows in the wake of confirmation from UK Sport – which precipitated a crisis by pulling its own funding – that they are to review their approach towards providing Lottery backing for those sports which have not been deemed to have Olympic medal potential in the short-term, a no compromise agenda claimed to discriminate against team sports.

“This support enables us to prepare our teams for international competition in 2015,” said British Basketball chairman Roger Moreland. “We particularly want to make sure that we can do everything possible to give our women’s team a great chance of succeeding at the European Championship finals, EuroBasket, in Hungary and Romania.

GB's young stars now have hope

GB’s young stars now have hope

“Turning to the longer term, it is also important that everyone takes the opportunity offered to them by UK Sport to contribute to the consultation about their future strategy.

“Team sports like basketball that mean so much to so many people and play such an important role in encouraging interest in sport, need consistent support into the future. It is important that everyone thinks carefully and takes the opportunity to give their views through that consultation.”

England’s Sports Minister Helen Grant is understood to have been personally involved in lobbying for the decision with the monies coming from a ring-fenced cash pot aimed at fostering elite sport.

“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 chairman Nick Bitel. “We therefore need to do what we can to support and capitalise on the value basketball can bring.”

The money remains a significant drop from the sums previously given to basketball in the lead-up to the 2012 Olympics in London and it seems unlikely that GB Men will have a programme in 2015 when they are not currently scheduled to have any competitive games.

And British Basketball, which is expected to be absorbed into a new wider governing body within the next 18 months, is now under pressure to raise its game after going through the entire 2014 international campaign without a jersey sponsor or significant commercial backer.

Strict performance targets, it is understood, have been set with the women’s team ordered to achieve a top-12 finish at EuroBasket 2015 and the men to qualify for the 2017 Europeans.

While UK Sport, while not providing cash, is due to become more intimately involved in the sport’s future governance with technical assistance and twice-yearly reviews.

“This announcement is very welcome and we thank the Minister for her role in brokering a solution,” Moreland added. “We also thank Sport England for their investment and UK Sport for contributing their expertise.

“The role played by the Basketball All Party Parliamentary Group chaired by Sharon Hodgson has been invaluable during this process. Many commentators in the media have been supportive as has the basketball community and the public at large. We thank them all for their support during a challenging period.”

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