UNITY PROMISED FROM HOME THREE

The three home nations have pledged to support the British Basketball Federation following criticism of a lack of common purpose in growing the sport.

The show of unity arrives a week after MVP revealed the home nations are being forced to step in after BBF lost its direct funding package from Sport England with the commitment to a single strategy for the sport placed under question at the same time.

Now it has been confirmed that Basketball England is to divert £300,000 of cash originally allocated for talent development towards the GB junior national teams which will allow them to continue in FIBA competitions. Discussions are thought to be ongoing over whether the BBF will receive part of the monies as a loan rather than a payment.

The idea was first raised in an unusually broad intervention initiated by Sport England’s Director of Sport Phil Smith with the government agency, according to recent board minutes, effectively issuing an edict for the sum to be passed on.

Basketball Wales is to provide £5,000 of funding with Basketball Scotland’s contribution to be determined when it learns its annual funding in the coming weeks.

In a series of statements, England, Scotland and Wales promised to work together more closely.

“Basketball England is delighted to be part of finding a resource solution with the Home Nations and the BBF,” Stewart Kellett, Basketball England’s chief executive, said.

“We have gone through many weeks of collaboration to identify what is possible to ensure Great Britain teams remain in competition. The challenge internally has been to find sufficient funds to contribute to a solution whilst still serving the rest of the domestic game and our membership.

“Whilst the recent spotlight has been on helping performance basketball, we are acutely aware that community basketball, coaches, officials, clubs and volunteers still needs support at grass roots level. We would like to thank Sport England for their flexibility and support in this process and we look forward to another successful year of national team basketball.”

Lisa Wainwright, CEO of British Basketball, added: “Given where we are with UK Sport funding and the still recent formation of British Basketball, it has been a momentous week for the sport and all boards/partners to ensure athletes can continue to represent Great Britain.

“There are have been many hours spent on finding a solution. I want to thank Sport England for their continued support and look forward to seeing the teams compete later in the year.”

Basketball England has been hit by confirmation of the impending departure of its respected director of governance Melissa Hague who, sources say, has chosen to leave for a consultancy role.

She is the third board member to step down from BE in recent months, according to filings with Companies House, with Kellett removed in December and financier Allan Heye parting in tandem with Hague.

Heye, however, is thought to be a frontrunner to fill a salaried support vacancy to be created with £50,000 of extra backing from Sport England. The role has not yet been advertised.

Despite some calls to move the function over to BBF, Basketball England will continue to manage all visa applications for migrant players and staff, liaising with the Home Office to maintain best practice, and provide eligibility checks with other federations across the globe. Oversight in Safeguarding, anti-doping, research and insight will also continue as a shared service where required.

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