UK Sport to consider funds rethink

Published: Tuesday 28th October 2014 by The News Editor

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UK Sport is prepared to consider changing its medal-focused criteria for funding elite sport.

The government agency, which invests £100million of National Lottery and other funds into top-level sport each year, has facilitated a surge in British achievements on the global stage.

Clear evidence of this is in how Great Britain have leapt from 36th in the Olympic medal table in 1996 to third, with 65 medals including 29 golds, at London 2012.

But by awarding more funding to the sports most likely to achieve success, others have had to suffer cuts.

Most controversially basketball, which has high participation levels, was among four Olympic sports whose funding was completely withdrawn earlier this year.

This reignited debate over the chief function of UK Sport and whether it should drive funds more at popular, but possibly less successful, sports or concentrate on those likely to deliver medals.

UK Sport is now happy to enter the debate and will launch a consultation process with a view to possible change for the next funding cycle post-Rio 2016.

UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl told the BBC: “We really do want to listen. We are not arrogant enough to think that we know how to do everything best.

“The questions that we need to ask now, of the nation, of the Government, of our partners, are: ‘What is it that they want UK Sport to be focused on? What is it they want UK Sport to deliver?’

“We will review what we hear from the consultation, we will refine our thinking and agree a direction of travel in February.”

Nicholl added that the body could be open to a range of suggestions with possible changes to the four or eight-year pathways sports are judged on or opening up to more non-Olympic or Paralympic sports.

She said: “One of the points raised by our board is a strong view that we should aim to drive more impact from what we do, and the impact isn’t just in creating the medals and the medallists.

“It is also through inspiring the next generation to participate in sport and promoting equality and diversity.

“Is it still about medals and medallists? Is it still about Olympic and Paralympic sports? Is it about non-Olympic sports? Do we dig deeper into 12-year pathways or do we stick with eight-year? Is there anything about the funding model and how we calculate how much it costs that needs to change?”

Published: Tuesday 28th October 2014 by The News Editor

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