Cycling and football put on notice over funding applications

CASH BOOST: Elite players such as Olympic bronze medallists Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge lost funding but badminton is to receive �10m-plus.
CASH BOOST: Elite players such as Olympic bronze medallists Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge lost funding but badminton is to receive �10m-plus.
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Grass-roots funding agency Sport England have announced a third batch of four-year grants for national governing bodies starting next month, with rugby league and swimming both getting more than £10m each.

Badminton, baseball, basketball, taekwondo and weightlifting were the five other sports to learn this week how much public funding they will receive for their development work from 2017-21, sharing almost £7m between them.

This announcement follows larger awards by Sport England in December and February, and means grants for more than 40 sports have been decided, totalling £216m.

However, this is a huge reduction on four years ago, when 46 national governing bodies shared nearly £500m to spend on grass-roots sport between 2013 and 2017.

This is a result of the Government targeting long-term inactivity – as opposed to encouraging sporty people to either return to sport or play it more regularly – which means less Sport England money is now going to national governing bodies.

Sport England are primarily funded by the National Lottery, although they also receive general taxation money from the Exchequer.

Sport England’s director of sport Phil Smith said: “The investments we’ve announced are the latest in a series of National Lottery funding commitments we are making to help sport’s regular participants.

“They are the people who play sport and get active week-in, week-out, and we want to make sure their experience is so good that they continue to stick with that healthy habit.”

The Rugby Football League (RFL) were given £17.5m in 2013, but will have to make do with £10.75m for the next four years as they try to grow the number of weekly players from its current 95,000, of whom 93 per cent are male.

A big push will be made on getting more women into the game, with a Women’s Super League in the pipeline, and plans to attract more black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) and disabled players.

RFL chief executive Nigel Wood said: “We understand the need to create new funding streams into all levels of the game if we are to truly maximise the opportunity of hosting the Rugby League World Cup in 2021 and, like all sports organisations, the Rugby Football League is working hard to reduce reliance on public investment.”

It is a similar story for the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA), who were given £23.5m in 2013, but only £10.56m this time.

Swimming remains the most popular grass-roots sport in England, but its once huge lead in the participation league table has significantly reduced over the last decade, with running and cycling closing fast.

The ASA have told Sport England thry will focus on diversifying their appeal, with programmes to promote free diving, synchronised swimming and water polo, as well as working more closely with GPs to get “swimming on the prescription pad”.

Badminton England, which lost UK Sport funding in December for their elite programme, have been given £2.8m by Sport England to develop their next generation of top players. This is on top of the £7.25m the agency gave them in December to fund their regular players.

The Football Association are the only major governing body still to learn how much Sport England support they will receive over the next four years, as the national game has been told to finalise its governance reforms before submitting its full application.

British Cycling were told they would be getting £17.3m in December, but have since been warned this depends on their new board being cleared of any wrongdoing by the independent review into allegations of bullying and discrimination in the GB cycling squad.