BRITISH basketball could be set for a reprieve after UK Sport announced it is considering a radical shake-up of the way it distributes £100m of crucial central funding.
The government agency’s current policy is to channel money only into sports that have demonstrated potential to provide Olympic medals within an eight-year time-frame.
It has achieved great success but led to support being removed from basketball, handball and volleyball, with critics complaining that team sports and emerging sports get a raw deal.
UK Sport chief Liz Nicholl hopes a public consultation will help her organisation decide whether the existing climate is skewed towards medals at the expense of participation.
She said: “We will be asking: Should we dig deeper? Should we extend our remit? We have the capacity to do it, the knowledge and the ability to be able to do that.
“We really do want to listen. We are not arrogant enough to think that we know how to do everything best.”
UK Sport’s ‘no compromise’ stance has helped Great Britain increase their medal tally at each of the last four Olympics, with London 2012 garnering 65, albeit boosted additionally home advantage.
London-raised Miami Heat star Luol Deng told City A.M. in August that basketball in this country faced an uncertain future following the removal of £7m of funding.
Deng said: “I really don’t know what comes next. We have come a long way since day one and I think that has been taken away from a sport which could help with so many issues and help a lot of kids.”
British Basketball yesterday called UK Sport’s planned consultation “a very welcome and timely development”. Performance chairman Roger Moreland added: “It will hopefully lead to a more balanced funding approach that fills the gap for sports such as basketball that have a huge grass roots base, are showing potential at elite level but have yet to achieve Olympic medal success.”