LEGALITY OF TAKEOVER TO BE SCRUTINISED

Basketball England may face yet another enquiry into its governance in the wake of fresh claims that the home nations broke their own rules in taking over the BBF.

It is understood that Sport England, who provide the bulk of the Manchester-based governing body’s funding, will meet with a group of former directors of the British Basketball Federation next month to take evidence over whether the current BE board has upheld its duties to act in a fit and proper way.

It will mark the second time that Basketball England has come under extended scrutiny by the quango in 2018 alone. Sport England sources insisted that their most recent informal investigation, which followed the submission of claims of mis-management through an “anonymous” source, found “no evidence” at that time. Previous enquiries, however, found governance issues resulting in hefty sanctions.

MVP has obtained a letter sent by one of the recently-resigned BBF directors to Sports Minister Tracey Crouch, and copied to UK Sport’s chief executive Liz Nicholl which outlines how England, Scotland and Wales violated the Federation’s pre-agreed articles of association when they called an extraordinary general meeting at headquarters of Coca Cola UK on July 5 to overthrow the current regime.

It highlights Article 100 which states: ‘No member shall be entitled to vote at any general meeting unless all monies presently payable by it to British Basketball have been paid.’ MVP has seen accounts which suggest Basketball England owed £19,621 – thought to be a disputed re-payment from cash provided for running the Great Britain youth team programmes – while they showed Scotland had a debt of £672 for outstanding fees.

There are also doubts over whether the three chairs in attendance at the EGM – Keith Mair of Wales, David Davies of Scotland and Clare Wardle of England – had been appointed as representatives by their own boards in accordance with the formal notice of the Extraordinary General Meeting. None of the trio has ever been a board member of the BBF.

The letter to Crouch adds: “Because of the actions of the HCAs, the BBF is now non-compliant with the sports governance code. Clearly, this has significant implications for any public monies now being transferred to it.

“One of the changes enforced by the HCAs to BBF Articles takes away the ability of the BBF to propose a levy from the HCA membership to part fund elite basketball. Given that the HCAs own plan for GB Basketball includes a membership fee of £145k for 18/19 and £148k for 19/20, this raises fundamental questions over the financial viability of the HCA plan for GB Basketball

“Having reflected over several days, I still cannot fathom why the HCAs are so hell-bent on this path of destruction. I can only conclude that it is a matter of self-interest, land grab and ego that is now putting the athletes and the sport in peril.”

Pressure for a full enquiry comes as Basketball England readies itself for what is likely to be a tempestuous Annual General Meeting in Manchester on September 1 with a number of clubs known to meeting next weekend to co-ordinate possible action, including a possible vote of no-confidence in the incumbent regime.

Although BE has completed the process of appointing two new independent directors to its board, the positions of those standing for elected posts will come under intense scrutiny with the expected departure of Grace Jacca and John Letizia, known to be the two most vocal critics of the organisation’s current management and strategy.

Highly-respected former FIBA referee and executive Alan Richardson, an ally of Basketball England CEO Stewart Kellett, is among those who have confirmed they have put themselves forward.

However his business relationship with BE, in overseeing a planned series of officiating camps, may yet complicate his candidacy due to sensitivities over conflict of interest. “We need to be whiter than white going forward,” one present director insisted.

Under-20s still in doubt

Days after Great Britain’s Under-20 men secured their place in Division A of the European Championships for another year, pressure has been put on the new interim chair of the BBF, Nicky Shaw, to clarify whether the programme will be scrapped or not.

Its suspension from 2019 onwards was one of the most controversial measures contained within the budget-cutting proposal tabled by the three home country associations.

It has been alleged that Shaw (pictured above), who has been serving as a Basketball England director, was unaware of the drastic plan when accepting the temporary role.

A leaked memo, received by all of BE’s current board from recently-resigned BBF chair Ed Warner, has asked whether the three bodies negotiated in unison “in bad faith” when tabling the Under-20 shutdown and has demanded that Shaw affirm her position.

Warner wants answers (MAP)

His letter queries:

– Whether you had sight of the HCAs’ plan for the BBF before the three chairs called a sudden EGM of the BBF
– Whether if you had sight of the plan you had read it and were therefore aware of the intention to withdraw the U20s for 2019/20
– Whether you formally approved the plan before it was sent to the BBF on 29 June
– If not, whether you subsequently approved the plan
– Whether you formally approved the calling of the EGM
– Whether you were aware of the intention to change the BBF’s articles at that EGM to remove its ability to charge BE, BS and BW a membership fee
– When minutes of any BE board calls/meetings relating to the above events will be published as required on the BE website

Shaw did not respond to MVP’s request for comment.

FIBA are still expected to intervene in the dispute under Article 129 of the BBF’s articles with a source close to the global governing body confirming they are “assessing possible courses of action.”

The BBF – and Great Britain’s teams – could be suspended if it is upheld the federation is non-compliant but no action is expected until the conclusion of this summer’s various European Championships.

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