Council snub Bell plan

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The Independent Online

A plan to revamp British skiing, backed by Martin Bell and Konrad Bartelski, has failed to persuade the Sports Council to reinstate over pounds 100,000 of grants to the British Ski Federation.

Instead the council, which cut the BSF's pounds 300,000 grant because it was unhappy with recent results in competition, has asked the BSF to contribute to a working group which will look into other methods of coaching competitive skiing in Britain.

Before the two sides met last week, the council was expected to confirm that new coaching proposals and a restructuring of the British junior team would be enough to secure the support of the council. Instead the chief executive, Derek Casey, has called for further investigation into the subject by coaching experts and members of the federation. Casey will announce a short-term decision on funding of the BSF on 30 November, but the working group is not expected to report back until February 1996.

Sceptics within the Sports Council do not believe the BSF will be able to reach a coaching agreement with the four home country teams, who will be deprived of talent and influence if the British junior team reforms - as suggested in the BSF's blueprint for the future. "I don't think they have the necessary support of the home countries," a Sports Council spokesman said.

However, Mike Jardine, chief executive of the BSF, expressed concern that the Sports Council's indecision could actually bankrupt the BSF: "Unless we sort out the problems in the short term there will be no BSF left for the long term," he said.