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Page last updated at 19:40 GMT, Monday, 13 October 2008 20:40 UK

Team GB's 60m funding gap

Matthew Pinsent
By Matthew Pinsent

The Olympic flag and Union Jack fly beside Tower Bridge in London
Will the Team GB's funding allow them to improve on their performance in China?

It seems a particularly British problem.

Having secured the 2012 Olympics for London in 2005, agreed a funding package for all our various sports in 2006, and then seen Team GB shine at the 2008 Games, we are now scratching around trying to get the whole thing to hang together.

In the week of the victory parade for GB's Beijing team, there is roughly a £60m gap between what we need to deliver medals in 2012 and what is on the table, and not many people are sure of how it can be closed.

The first and most important chunk of the package is the contribution made by the National Lottery which has performed almost as well as Team GB in recent years.

Of the £600m assigned to the sports, over half is coming from the Lottery. Indeed, it has performed so well that its upped its total by £20m recently.

The government has promised to dole out £220m and that too has undergone an increase recently as the extent of the problem has become clear.

Finally, it has always been assumed that the 'private sector' will chip in £100m to complete the picture, but this has been lowered first to £80m (due to the Lottery increase) and then £60m as the government upped the ante.

But you might have noticed that the private sector isn't quite the same as it used to be.

OLYMPICS BLOG
BBC Sport's James Munro

In Beijing the Culture Minister Andy Burnham announced the "Medal Hopes" scheme to allow private companies to sponsor Olympic athletes on a national, regional and local level.

However, various problems have already been highlighted with the programme.

Firstly, the financial climate just isn't the same as even a few weeks ago.

Almost every company would give extra scrutiny to anything that means spending money that isn't vital in this current situation.

Secondly, the marketplace is crowded when it comes to the Olympics.

The London organisers (LOCOG) have already sold off large rights to Adidas, Lloyds and BP amoungst others. LOCOG wouldn't allow their logo, the Olympic rings or naming rights to go to any government fund-raising scheme.

Thirdly, the individuals and their sports are already selling themselves to the hilt.

Rowing, sailing, cycling, swimming and athletics already have commercial tie-ins that preclude another layer of sponsorship, and the Hoys and Addlingtons of the team are for once earning a decent crust.

No-one really expects any small commercial enterprise to raise the full £60m. It's bigger than the operating budget of most Olympic sports, and rattling the tin on a regional or local level is going to collect thousands not millions.

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

So the government is in a bind, and though it insists in a statement given to the BBC's 'Inside Sport' this week that the appetite is there in the private sector, the future looks glum to anyone outside Whitehall.

They could, of course, fund the shortfall themselves but that would be a pretty spectacular U-turn. And given that the man who first promised the funding is now the Prime Minister it's doubly embarrassing.

As of last week, only the very highest-profile performing sports were assured by phone calls from UK Sport.

Cycling, rowing, sailing, swimming and athletics have all been told in detail what they will get in the years leading up to London 2012.

Badminton, hockey, shooting, archery have all been told to wait until December before planning can commence, and between them they must be worried.

They spent a grand total of over £25m between them and came home from Beijing without a medal.

Add in the minnows of the GB Team for London - volleyball, basketball and handball and the picture turns from one of sporting success and celebration to one of uncertainty and worry.



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see also
Holmes wants more medals for GB
10 Oct 08 |  Athletics
2012 to be 'cosier' than Beijing
07 Oct 08 |  UK Politics
Cash boost for 2012 medal hopes
06 Oct 08 |  Olympics
Beijing stars to parade in London
03 Oct 08 |  Olympics
GB chiefs target misfiring sports
26 Aug 08 |  Beijing 2008
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
Lessons for London
26 Aug 08 |  London 2012
Team GB's roll of honour
23 Aug 08 |  Beijing 2008


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