Inside Lines: UK Sport’s ‘dreadful’ funding cuts are referred to Parliament


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The Independent Online

The battle to save British basketball, and other sports facing a bleak future after the recent crippling funding cuts, has reached Parliament.

Former Labour sports minister Kate Hoey is taking up the cudgel on their behalf, putting down a motion condemning UK Sport’s decision to withdraw all funding from basketball (“the third most played team sport in England”) ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games and urging a review of the process for funding team sports. Hoey, MP for Vauxhall and sports adviser to London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, tells us she is “deeply dismayed” by the continuing hardline approach to funding, with UK Sport accused of abandoning team sports and some women’s sports. “Basically the system is unfair,” she says. “I am really quite concerned that in the aftermath of the London Olympics those who make the decisions about funding only do so on the basis of potential gold medals. It is a dreadful philosophy. I am particularly unhappy about basketball, which is such a growing and inspirational sport.” She adds: “I believe that every sport which competes in the Olympics should have a basic funding, and team sports certainly should not be discriminated against.” Hoey’s intervention – allied to the backing of the Paralympian icon Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson in the House of Lords – increases pressure on UK Sport to soften their “no compromise” stance, especially as Olympics chief Lord Coe and Ed Warner, chair of UK Athletics, one of the better-funded sports bodies, have also now pledged to help.

Russia v Ukraine in the ring

Although there has been no official declaration of war between Russia and Ukraine, they will formally come to blows today. Despite the prevailing hostilities, boxers from both nations meet in Moscow in the World Series of Boxing quarter-finals, with the return leg in Donesk, eastern Ukraine, on Friday. Says a spokesman for the governing body, AIBA: “Both teams have agreed on the Olympic principle that sport should always be conducted outside politics.” Whether fight fan Vladimir Putin will be at the Moscow ringside for today’s potentially volatile punch-up isn’t established, but you can be sure former world heavyweight champ Vitali Klitschko, who yesterday withdrew as a Ukraine presidential candidate, will be urging on his own troops in the return.

Rosenthal still has bite

The excellent Jim Rosenthal certainly hasn’t been short of work since being dropped after 28 years by ITV when he reached 60 in 2008. He continues to pop up on screens all over the place, from MUTV to OSN Sports in Dubai, fronting football, rugby and cricket events, and has a continuing role as lead presenter on BoxNation. But even for the ubiquitous Rosenthal a call from Channel 4 to help cover Crufts came as a bit of a shock. He found himself commentating on the agility section, where assorted pooches jump over hurdles. “Always thought my career was going to the dogs,” he jokes – as befits someone whose son Tom is a successful stand-up comic.  

Farewell to duff

Shame that barely a fistful of the dozens of fighters he made rich and famous turned out for the otherwise well-attended funeral of charismatic promoter and matchmaker Mickey Duff last week, giving credence to his cryptic view: “If you want loyalty, buy a dog.”