They had stood accused of bullying, cronyism and lack of transparency in this process. Invited to comment when The Herald broke the news earlier this year, they declined, then protested that because they had not put their case, the story had become skewed.
Badminton, which has robustly defended itself against cuts of £50,000 imposed using flawed and inaccurate data, is right to be concerned. Every MSP was contactd by Ronnie Conway, vice president of the governing body, and the interest generated suggests that
Holyrood will be asking questions when parliament reconvenes, especially given that Imogen Bankier has just won world silver with English partner Chris Adcocks. Little wonder that badminton rejects its depiction as a fading sport. The only other European country to win any world medal was Denmark -- a bronze.
The data which sportscotland finally revealed last week confirmed a profound imbalance in the way that sports are treated, demonstrating that this column has been 100% justified in campaigning for greater transparency.
Predictably, the quango would argue othewise. They responded to a series of Herald questions yesterday, but they appear to be making up the rules as they go along.
Their lastest published documents show a pattern of inconsistency, failing to explain shocking disparity in funding levels -- increases to sports with declining Commonwealth and other championship performances, while cutting some successful ones.
Sports with a record of faultless governance, as defined by sportscotland’s very own criteria, have been penalised, while those given a “limited” seal of approval have been rewarded with significant increases.
As detailed in these columns, wrestling, with minimal participation, and despite having failed to submit accounts for several years, and failing to hold annual meetings in defiance of their own constitution, is receiving £233,000 in the current year.
Performance funding equates to £900 per member but nearer three times as much per active competing member. Bowls, by comparison, gets just £2 per member.
Sportscotland yesterday attempted to dismiss comparisons between sports, and even said that the poorest administered deserve more help.
“Sportscotland looks at each sport individually, assesses past performance, future potential and then works with the sport on the development of a costed plan,” they told us. “Each sports governing body (sgb) is considered individually because they each have a unique set of circumstances. The funding that each receives reflects that and therefore comparisons based purely upon overall funding received should not be made.”
Sportscotland uses an independent auditor to check governance of sport bodies and say no automatic link is made between investment and audit outcome.
“Indeed, as we firmly believe that a foundation of good governance is essential for every SGB to deliver its sport’s full potential, the investment made in this area is more essential for those SGBs that require more support in improving their governance.”
This seems to send a confusingly unwelcome message to sport governing bodies: show yourself to be incompetent, fail to hold annual meetings and defy your own constitution, and you are likely to be rewarded.
In the case of wrestling, their support has increased from £1000 in 2005-06 (when they were threatened with de-recognition by the quango after failing to submit accounts) to £230,000 this year!
The absurdity of punishment of the innocent and reward of the guity is almost Kafka-esque.
That sportscotland chair Louise Martin was succeeded as Scottish Commonwealth Games Council chair by wrestling’s treasurer Michael Cavanagh only serves to fuel allegations of cronyism.
Sportscotland trumpted wrestling’s success at this month’s Commonwealth wrestling championships in Melbourne, with banner headlines from the Scottish Institute of Sport: “excellent performances” amounting to six bronze medals.
Vindication? No, it’s spin. Nowhere did it state the numbers involved. For the record, four bronze medals were won by women and two by men. Of four female weight categories, two had only three competitors, and two had four. In other words, bronze was awarded for finishing last and second last. The two male medals came in divisions in which there were just six competitors.
The Commonwealth wrestling championships are near worthless as a barometer. Historically, they are relatively poorly attended -- only three entrants per weight division speaks for itself. Scotland won five medals at the last Commonwealth championships, prior to last year’s Commonwealth Games, but nothing in Delhi where participation was higher.
The eight wrestlers in Melbourne were accompanied by five officials -- little wonder it is known even within the sport as “The Travel Club”.
In 2008, the then sports minister, Stewart Maxwell, announced sportscotland would have an extra £7.5m to improve medal hopes at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Where has it gone?
Sportscotland gave us a lot of rhetoric about “outcomes”, but did not clarify where the money has been spent.
Badminton has since taken over it’s own performance management, and sportscotland seem to suggest the funds transferred from the institute for that purpose represent badminton’s share of that money. Badminton say this is nonsense.
It is certainly not in line with the sums transferred to other sports undergoing the same process.
The sooner the sports minister takes a searching look at sportstscotland, the better. It’s hard to escape the notion that the loss of 81 sportscotland staff at a cost of £5.65m in redundancies --incumbents queued up for the cash rather than move to Glasgow -- has been terminally damaging to their competence and image.
The move cost £7.9m. Those who questioned value for money for sport may have been proved correct.