Page last updated at 12:25 GMT, Thursday, 21 August 2008 13:25 UK

Sponsors sought to plug 2012 gap

Team GB Olympic cycling
British cycling has signed its own sponsorship deal with Sky

The government will not cover a 79m sports funding gap ahead of the 2012 Games but has announced plans to step up the drive for private sponsors.

Culture Minister Andy Burnham said he was confident the cash would be raised and Team GB's success in China was the best "springboard" for the drive.

UK Sport was promised 600m including 100m from the private sector - but that has proved difficult to raise.

It has been cut to 79m as more money is expected to come from the lottery.

There have been concerns that UK athletes would face funding cuts before the 2012 Games in London because of difficulties raising money.

We have the best possible springboard and momentum from Beijing and I am absolutely confident that we will realise this goal
Andy Burnham

No sponsors have yet been signed up, but the 100m needed from sponsors has been reduced to 79m. The government says this is because, under the terms of the new National Lottery licence, more money will be raised for good causes like sport.

This week British Olympic Association chairman Lord Moynihan had called on Mr Brown to make up the shortfall from government coffers and "honour that commitment".

'Ridiculous'

On Wednesday Mr Burnham, the secretary of state for culture, media and sport, announced a sponsorship drive called Medal Hopes, to involve local, regional and national businesses in sponsorship.

It could include "naming rights" of some of the Olympic venues after the 2012 Games has finished, he added.

Every time the lottery is raided, less money goes into grassroots sport
Jeremy Hunt
Conservatives

But the scheme will not be able to use the Olympic and London 2012 brands like the Olympic rings.

"It's a 79m challenge. We have the best possible springboard and momentum from Beijing and I am absolutely confident that we will realise this goal," Mr Burnham.

But he would not say the government would step in to cover the money if it was not found saying to do so would be "to say we are not going to have a private fund-raising scheme".

"But we are planning for the full funding commitment, the commitment to funding of athletes will be met. It would be ridiculous to create any uncertainty."

Olympic rings

The Conservatives accused the government of "raiding grassroots sports budgets" by taking extra lottery money and said it should have started raising the money earlier.

Shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "In January the then culture secretary categorically promised the House of Commons there would be no more lottery raids to pay for their Olympics budget miscalculations.

"Six months later that promise has been torn up. Every time the lottery is raided, less money goes into grassroots sport, yet this is the only way we will secure a legacy for everyone from the 2012 Olympics."

The London organising committee and the British Olympic Association are both looking for private sector backers and some individual sports have their own agreements.

Mr Burnham admitted it was a "crowded marketplace" but said the Medal Hopes scheme would open up opportunities for local sponsors.




RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific