New sports council to pursue goal of excellence

GOVERNMENT support for sport is to be focused on re-establishing competitive games in schools and nurturing future champions under a major re-shaping of sports administration announced yesterday, writes Stephen Goodwin.

Less emphasis will be given to leisure pursuits, health promotion and the 'Sport for All' concept.

Ian Sproat, Minister for Sport, told the Commons he expected the new United Kingdom Sports Council to concentrate on two to three dozen sports. The current Great Britain Sports Council recognises 110 sports and activities as diverse as yoga, angling, dance and mountaineering.

From next year, the UKSC and an English Sports Council will replace the GBSC, inheriting a budget of about pounds 50m a year. The GBSC has a staff of 430 and many jobs could be at risk.

The UKSC will concentrate on increasing British influence on international sport and oversee nation-wide matters such as doping control, sports science and medicine and coaching. Professional sport will be represented for the first time.

Mr Sproat said the English Sports Council would have a sharper focus, concentrating its resources on direct support for governing bodies of sport, helping the grass roots and on services in support of sporting excellence.

The new body would withdraw from the promotion of mass participation, informal recreation, leisure pursuits and health promotion. 'These are laudable aims, but secondary to the pursuit of high standards of sporting achievement,' Mr Sproat said.

In a letter to Sir Peter Yarranton, chairman of the Sports Council, he said local authorities would now take the lead in providing sport and recreation for the general public.