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Page last updated at 16:43 GMT, Monday, 6 October 2008 17:43 UK

Cash boost for 2012 medal hopes

By Matt Slater

Rebecca Adlington
The two golds won by Rebecca Adlington are good news for swimming

Britain's most successful sports at the Beijing Olympics have been given an indication about their 2012 budgets.

UK Sport, the agency that funds Olympic sport, cannot announce its full spending plans until December but has moved to reassure the key players now.

Team GB's newer or less successful sports, however, face an anxious couple of months while they wait for news.

Their budgets are uncertain as doubts persist over the government's ability to raise 79m from the private sector.

That figure is the problematic sum included in Gordon Brown's 2006 Budget commitment to increase spending on elite sport after London was awarded the right to host the 2012 Olympics.

The then chancellor announced he was giving UK Sport an additional 300m over five years, on top of the 300m it had already been allocated from the National Lottery.

The second 300m was intended to be comprised of 200m from the public purse and 100m to be raised privately. The plan was for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to assist UK Sport in finding this money.

The DCMS has since put sports marketing agency Fast Track in charge of that project but, with the general market deteriorating and other Olympic-related budgets rising, no progress has been made and many experts predict there is a little chance of success.

Culture Secretary Andy Burnham announced an initiative to breathe some life into this effort in the midst of Britain's gold rush in Beijing. But his "Medal Hopes" scheme has been given a very cool reception by Olympic insiders.

BBC Sport's James Munro

Burnham hopes to raise funds by selling off the post-2012 naming rights of Olympic venues and asking star athletes to promote corporate backers.

Unfortunately, the naming rights idea has upset the London Games' organising committee and the British Olympic Association (BOA), and the athlete-endorsement plan has run into opposition from the national governing bodies, who have corporate sponsorship deals of their own, as do many athletes.

The only good news for UK Sport and DCMS is that better-than-expected lottery ticket sales have reduced the 100m shortfall to 79m.

It now appears government has realised the difficulty of the situation and has agreed to stump up an extra 20m to reduce the shortfall to 59m. It has said, however, the rest must be raised privately.

This has left UK Sport with the tricky task of drawing up four-year funding plans for the 26 Olympic sports hoping to be represented at London 2012. Those plans - and various contingency options - are being prepared now and, after two months of consultation with the sports, will be announced in early December.

BBC Sport, however, has learned Britain's star performers in Beijing, which are believed to include cycling, rowing and sailing - were told on Monday roughly what to expect for the next Olympic cycle. This is likely to be a big increase on what they received for this year's Games. They were given more than 70m between them from 2005 to 2009.

Shooting has had its financial plans deferred until December, the BBC understands.

The two big, medal-rich sports, athletics and swimming, were also set to be given early warning of what to expect in December.

Peter Cousins losing in Beijing
Poor performers, such as the judo players, face an anxious wait

Swimming beat its 2008 medal target and appears to be on an upward curve, while athletics just missed its target. The best-financed sport going into Beijing, athletics may have to endure a little belt-tightening in the years ahead, although it has recently appointed a new head coach and there is potential in the team.

The other sports, however, that missed Beijing targets - archery, judo and shooting, for example - face a disconcerting wait to hear what their fates will be, as do the "new" British Olympic sports of basketball, handball and volleyball.

The last three have all made great strides in the last year and appear to be energised by the prospect of a place at London 2012.

But as desirable as it may be for some, particularly the BOA, to see the hosts put out a full team, there is little prospect of success in these events for Britain and that runs counter to the UK Sport formula for matching funding with genuine medal-winning potential.

Many close to the debate have expressed the view that if the full 600m package is not available it would be wrong to divert funds to sports just aiming to compete, as opposed to win. Others, however, have said this would signal an embarrassing lack of ambition for a host nation and a missed opportunity to leave a wide sporting legacy.

Much depends on the DCMS' resolve, the success of "Medal Hopes" and UK Sport's commitment to its "no compromise" philosophy.


see also
GB chiefs target misfiring sports
26 Aug 08 |  Beijing 2008
Britain may aim for third in 2012
25 Aug 08 |  London 2012
Jowell rejects athlete cash fears
22 Aug 08 |  UK Politics
Sponsors sought to plug 2012 gap
21 Aug 08 |  UK Politics
Brown reaffirms Olympics support
05 Jul 07 |  UK News
Brown reveals 2012 funding boost
22 Mar 06 |  Olympics 2012

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