england_basketball_logo_568England Basketball has been given a year to turn around a decline in participation – but has been told it will benefit from a funding boost if its numbers go up.

Despite failing to meet its targets for last year, the regional governing body has been allocated up to £6.75 million by Sport England to get more people playing the sport, out of a total pot of £493m from 2013-2017.

However, there are strings attached.

Its annual grant, which totalled £7.3m in 2012, has been reduced by almost 50% with a chunk withheld. But the cash could still be increased if EB can prove it can deliver on the criteria set down by the government agency, whose merger with UK Sport has been quietly abandoned.

A one-year investment of £815,000 will allow England Basketball to test two new grassroots programmes: IM Basketball, a flexible format of the sport that doesn’t demand a traditional court, aimed at 14-25 year olds, and Ball Again, an initiative aimed at bringing former players back into the game as well as teaching skills to new ones.

A lot will ride on their success. Effectively, EB is on probation. The message is clear, however: improve, or miss out and watch the monies be invested in other sports instead.

In a statement, Sport England confirmed that “If England Basketball is able to prove that these initiatives are working, then further funding worth a total of £3.3 million will be released on a year-by-year basis.”

There is also a four-year investment of £1.2m into satellite clubs will help move young people into formal club basketball through a sustainable network of accredited clubs and organisations.

Sport England’s investment includes four-year funding of £1.54m to support elite development through local and regional development squads. It will also help fund a Regional Institute of Basketball as well as the build-up to the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast. The money is expected to remain ring-fenced, even if a merger with Basketball Scotland and Wales is completed by 2016.

“The basketball market is dominated by strong brands and we believe there is untapped potential out there,” Sport England’s Director of Sport, Phil Smith said.

“Over the last four years, England Basketball has shown us it can successfully develop clubs and talent – we want it to continue that work at the same time as increasing the number of people enjoying the informal versions of the game.”

UK Sport will announce its elite sport funding on Tuesday with British Basketball expected to see a funding cut in the wake of Great Britain’s disappointing performance at the London Olympics.

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