British basketball has been thrown a lifeline with a new government scheme that could finance the GB teams.

Olympic sports which do not receive Lottery funding through UK Sport are to be allowed to apply for up to £500,000 from a £3m fund being established from Treasury monies.

It mirrors the unique pot of cash provided earlier this year to avert a funding crisis in the British Basketball Federation while it was being torn apart in a power struggle ultimately won by the three home nations.

“The Aspiration Fund will give more sports the chance to inspire the nation and shine at Tokyo 2020 and beyond,” said sports minister Tracey Crouch.

“This £3m bridges a gap between grassroots and elite funding, and will help sports grow and develop future champions.

“UK Sport investment has transformed Britain into an Olympic and Paralympic powerhouse. But there are sports, not on UK Sport’s world-class programme, that do a huge amount of good in communities that we can help on their path to the podium.”

Alongside their plans to qualify for Tokyo, sports must outline how they will use the funding to to capitalise on the impact of competing at the Games to “engage and inspire communities”.

It will run up to after Tokyo 2020, at which point a revamped funding system is expected to be put in place.

Liz Nicholl, chief executive of UK Sport, added: “This new Aspiration Fund is a fantastic opportunity for some sports to get on track for the Tokyo Games.

“Many of the sports we are currently unable to support, while further away from reaching the podium, have great potential not only to inspire through their performances on the field of play but also to have a genuine social impact in communities across the UK.”

Much of the lobbying, sources say, was undertaken by outgoing BBF chief executive Lisa Wainwright, who is set to be replaced by a part-time secretary-general, understood to be existing Basketball England board member Nicky Shaw, who till take up a paid role which was not advertised externally.

Wainwright will remain on the FIBA Governance Commission after being appointed earlier this year.

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