FUNDING DEAL PREVENTS EURO EXIT

An eleventh-hour deal has been struck to save Great Britain from pulling several of its national teams out of European competition following a decision by Sport England to end its £1 million package of funding.

The move, which threatened to push the British Basketball Federation to the brink of financial collapse, has been averted by a short-term support deal provided by Basketball England and Wales – with Scotland’s backing on hold until their annual funding for next year is revealed.

The injection of a six-figure sum allowed the BBF to formally enter youth national sides into Tuesday’s European Championship draws following two weeks of intense negotiations and talks which included various parties including the three home nations, Sport England and world governing body FIBA.

Crisis averted, but only just, admitted BBF chief executive Lisa Wainwright, who had a central role in brokering a deal.

“We’re just trying to get basketball back onto the footing it deserves in this country,” she said. “We now need to undertake a significant round of lobbying but there is no short-term fix. But we are working together as a group.

“The most important thing at this point was to make sure our most talented young kids get the opportunities needed as a stepping stone. And over the next few weeks, we’ll see where we can take this forward.”

With FIBA understood to have threatened heavy fines if GB’s teams are subsequently withdrawn, the monies provided are expected to come from a talent funding support package provided by Sport England but also from potential cost savings to be found by BBF.

However there will inevitably be renewed pressure to find further economies of scale between the three home nations and avoid costly duplications.

MVP has learnt that a discussion paper on the subject, which proposed a huge increase in shared services to eliminate needless expenditure, has been sidelined by management at Basketball England despite broad support for the strategy at board level.

It may need to be revisited, by necessity, before too long.

Funding for the GB senior and Under-20 teams was not under threat with enough budget to fund their current campaigns already ring-fenced from previous funding deals.

But one senior BBF source said: “We must learn the lessons, particularly of the last 72 hours. We can’t go on lurching from crisis to crisis – otherwise you engender the opportunities of the next generation of players.

“We can talk all we want about growth and talent and other things. But unless everyone is working together to develop pragmatic solutions that go all the way to making GB better at international level, we will never really develop the sport.

“There are so many egos involved and while they might be decent individuals, they fail to understand what is going on.”

One solution would be for UK Sport to alter its system of distributing Lottery revenues to provide help to those sports, like basketball, who are not currently deemed capable of achieving Olympic or world championship medals.

No change to its approach is expected until after the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

 EUROPEAN DRAWS 2018

FIBA U20 European Championship, Division A 
Chemnitz – Germany (14-22 July)

Great Britain in Group A with Lithuania, Montenegro and Turkey. The initial phase is made up of 16 teams in four groups.

FIBA U18 European Championship A
Liepaja / Ventspils / Riga – Latvia (28 July – 5 August)

Great Britain in Group D with Lithuania, Montenegro and Serbia. The initial phase is made up of 16 teams in four groups.

FIBA U16 European Championship B
Sarajevo – Bosnia and Herzegovina (9-18 August)

Great Britain in Group A along with Sweden, Portugal, Luxembourg, Romania and Ireland. The initial phase is made up of 24 teams in four groups.

FIBA U20 Women’s Championship B
Oradea – Romania (7-15 July)

Great Britain in Group A along with Greece, Ukraine, Lithuania, Romania and Israel. The initial phase is made up of 12 teams in two groups

FIBA U18 Women’s Championship B
Oberwart / Gussing / Furstenfield – Austria (3-12 August)

Great Britain in Group C along with host nation Austria, Montenegro, Denmark, Turkey and Netherlands. The initial phase is made up of 24 teams in four groups.

FIBA U16 Women’s Championship B
Podgorica – Montenegro (16-25 August)

Great Britain in Group A along with Greece, Sweden, Iceland, Macedonia and hosts Montenegro. The initial phase is made up of 23 teams in four groups.

Photo: FIBA

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