England Basketball, the sport's governing body responsible for more than 14,000 members and 800 clubs outside of the top flight British Basketball League, had £495 in the bank at the end of its last financial year.
This amount, however, did not result from creative accounting to reduce a tax bill. But, allied to total estimated losses of £1,175,000 and "exceptional costs" of £139,000 in 2001-2002, that £495 ensures that EB's annual general meeting on 30 November will put the governing body's directors and officials under a searing scrutiny.
A summer of resignations, suspensions and reinstatements gave EB's headquarters in Stanningley, Leeds, all the appearance of a banana republic. Now this week's publication of the annual report and accounts for the 12 months up to 31 May will add impetus to those senior men's NBL Conference clubs – the tier below the BBL – who want to breakaway.
The accounts reveal that the £139,000 exceptional costs comprised £9,000 consultancy fees over and above a grant from Sport England; £25,000 in legal fees "in response to the many situations which have plagued it [EB] this last year"; £45,000 set aside to fight an alleged breach of copyright in which another company is seeking £120,000 compensation; £60,000 overspent on the international budget.
At the end of the year there was "£495 cash at bank and in hand" according to the accounts.
Betty Codona OBE, an EB director and chairperson, explains to the membership in the report: "The directors do not consider the end of year accounts to be by any standards satisfactory", but says it could have been worse, at least in regard to the £60,000 overspend on the international budget.
"This was because [the] International [Committee] was working to an unauthorised budget which was discovered by the chairperson in March 2002: otherwise this sum could have been even more excessive."
Those who have followed the exploits of the under-funded, over-achieving national team down the years – in this writer's case since 1974 – will find it hard to begrudge them an extra £60,000 in the context of a £1,175,000 deficit.
On Thursday, coach Laszlo Nemeth announced the minimum 10 players for this month's European Championship games against Italy, who they face on Wednesday, Slovenia and the Czech Republic without the benefit of a single training session to assess the players' form.
Nemeth is caught in a no-win situation: EB does not qualify for Lottery Funding because England are ranked too low in Europe, but they cannot improve their ranking while there is insufficient funding to provide a programme of training and friendly internationals.
EB's income for the year included £476,000 from Sport England, with the bulk of the remainder made up from membership fees, national conference fees, sponsorship and development initiatives, and totalled £1,648,470.
But expenditure totalled £1,792,215, including £285,557 on EB salaries, £48,442 in expenses, £142,942 in headquarters overheads and £42,350 in legal and professional fees, leading the auditors to assess "estimated losses of £1,175,000 available to carry forward against future trading profits" – should the day ever dawn.
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