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Basketball Scotland fully backs appeal process following UK Sport's devastating no-funding statement

BASKETBALL was among several sports devastated this week to learn that there will be no funding to cover the next Olympic cycle covering Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

They have until mid-January to lodge an appeal with UK Sport which basketball and volleyball have confirmed they will pursue.

Both governing bodies were aware of the "no-compromise" policy of UKS which set performance targets for 2012. "But I never considered that no funding would be an outcome," said Roger Moreland, British Basketball chairman, hoping to change the decision, "by presenting them with new evidence. I would also welcome the opportunity to go before the UK Sport board to discuss our case. We have a great story to tell. The sport has a had a fantastic journey. The analogy I use is League Two to the Premier League."

Some in Scotland, which could enter international events independently, had reservations but, after much angst and heart-searching, they signed up. There are now echoes of "we told you so" from who were opposed. However, Colin Pearson, chair of Basketball Scotland, is backing Moreland in the appeal process. Neither would discuss the possibility of Scotland walking away, which would mean no GB set-up at all. Under the agreement struck over the Olympic with FIBA, a Scotland senior team only exists until 2016.

"In adversity comes opportunity," says Moreland. "I don't believe the future of the sport is in standing apart. We are not a big enough sport across Britain. The immediate issue is how we appeal this funding successfully. The success of the last few years is more consistent than anything ever achieved in the past. The home federations have done a lot of work.

"It was 1981 when England last sat at the top table in Europe, and 1957 for Scotland. Wales have never done so. Now GB men are going into their third successive European finals, and the women their second. That shows what can be achieved when you work together, not when you fall apart."

There is the prospect of the sport's supporters independently orchestrating a petition and social media campaign in both basketball and volleyball. However, mere anger and toys out the pram are unlikely to prevail. More telling will be evidence which UKS may not have considered.

My feeling is that UKS do not understand what they are dealing with in basketball. This is exemplified by the Sports Minister Hugh Robertson dismissing the sport's 2016 chances. One wonders whether he even understands the process.

"I am mystified by the minister's statement that we have no chance of qualifying for Rio," said Moreland. "I wonder where that information comes from. I am also perplexed by his comment that basketball is an expensive sport. We were only looking for similar funding to the last cycle. We wanted the chance to launch on where we had got to. And it is simply not true to say we have no chance of qualifying for Rio. On the basis of the £347m available, I do not believe that £8m is an expensive sport."

UKS do not fund tennis and football at Olympic level because they are professional sports. Similarly they will not fund golf's programme for 2016 when they will appear in the Games for the first time in over a century. Are they judging basketball in the same light, even though the sport in Britain is not remotely approaching a similar stage of development?

With such as NBA star Luol Deng in the British team, it's understandable how they might make such a mistake. Truth is, if funding remains zero, British Basketball would struggle to pay the insurance to use him in a British vest. "It is expensive, but it's too early to talk about that kind of detail," said Moreland.

As he attempts to defuse a major potential crisis, we are left with a disturbing feeling that sports which receive sympathetic funding in Britain are white and middle class.

Basketball is neither. Its heartland is inner cities, often in deprived areas. Progress in achieving social inclusion and helping combat crime is manifest in such as the Midnight Leagues. Without an elite window, this risks being compromised.

A lack of joined-up sports thinking is evident at government's every turn as the chance to create an Olympic legacy and promote child health recedes. In reality, the costs are negligible. UK sport spending generates nearly £3.5bn in VAT annually. Support for basketball and other team sports would cost small change by comparison.

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