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Page last updated at 19:47 GMT, Thursday, 3 March 2011

Team GB bosses clash in London 2012 funding dispute

By Matt Slater
BBC sports news reporter

Rebecca Adlington's two gold medals from Beijing Olympics
The BOA says London 2012's success will depend on British medal glory

The British Olympic Association has denied it is in a "dire financial situation" while continuing to blame past regimes for its cash problems.

In an email to the most senior figures in British Olympic sport, BOA boss Andy Hunt criticised "inaccurate" reports about the organisation's finances.

This follows Wednesday's BBC exclusive in which he admitted to funding fears.

But on Thursday Hunt said: "I can categorically state the BOA is in a sound financial position."

The national Olympic committee's chief executive went on to outline the strides the BOA has made in "transforming our financial position following years of failure".

His most controversial claim, however, is that his predecessors sold the marketing rights for the BOA's main asset, the use of the Olympic brand in this country, to London 2012's organising committee, Locog, too cheaply.

Surrendering those rights to an organising committee is a condition of bidding for the Games, as the use of the Olympic brand is a crucial source of revenue. And the International Olympic Committee (IOC) sets strict criteria on what a national Olympic committee can effectively charge for them.

The cash settlement with Locog will be recounted as a low point in the BOA's history

BOA chief executive Andy Hunt

The deal with London 2012, the so-called Joint Marketing Programme Agreement (JMPA), was struck in 2004 and resulted in an arrangement worth £30m in cash and services to the BOA.

The two most senior figures at the BOA at that time, chairman Sir Craig Reedie and chief executive Simon Clegg, claimed the deal was the best that could be reached under the circumstances and £30m gave the organisation a level of financial certainty.

Hunt, though, has repeatedly challenged this view since coming to the BOA in November 2008 and has unsuccessfully tried to reopen negotiations with Locog.

In Thursday's email to British Olympic bosses, Hunt said: "We inherited an extremely poor deal which is worth just £19m in cash over a seven-year period.

"This compares with our Canadian colleagues who agreed a deal with [Vancouver 2010's organising committee] worth £69m for a winter Games, which is of course much smaller in size and opportunity than a summer Games.

"Furthermore, we believe the Brazilian Olympic committee can expect to receive more than £100m through its JMPA with the Rio 2016 organisers.

The final part of an Olympic athlete's journey is becoming part of Team GB and going to the Games - this is where the BOA should prioritise its spend

UK Sport's Baroness Sue Campbell

"We accept that the cash settlement with Locog will be recounted as a low point in the BOA's history."

This claim prompted an angry response from one boss of a leading Olympic sport who said Hunt's criticism was "fine in hindsight" but not a fair reflection of what happened "as a review of the minutes will confirm".

Another senior figure from a leading Olympic sport was even more scathing of the BOA's rhetoric.

"If you've got £1 to spend you don't spend £2. It's like Jack and the Beanstalk," he told BBC Sport.

"They knew about the cost implications of London 2012 - the bigger team and raised medal hopes - but they spent loads of money on things other people are already doing. It's outrageous to plead poverty like this."

A different source also pointed out the Vancouver comparison was misleading as it included money that in this country would be channelled through UK Sport, the agency that actually funds Britain's Olympic hopefuls.

James Pearce Blog

He also pointed out the IOC had changed the criteria for Rio 2016, enabling the BOA's Brazilian counterparts to ask for more money.

More worrying for Hunt, perhaps, are the accusations the BOA simply spends too much money on "non-core activities".

Unlike the situation in most countries, the BOA is only responsible for the Olympic team at the Games themselves. Taking a team to a summer or winter Olympics is its primary role and it pays for this with its own fundraising activities.

But recent years have seen a dramatic increase in the scope of its activities. This has brought the BOA into conflict with a number of stakeholders in the UK's confusing landscape of sporting organisations.

Whether it be the appointment of England's World Cup-winning rugby coach Sir Clive Woodward in an "elite performance" role similar to those done by UK Sport's senior staff, or chairman Lord Moynihan's plans for school sport, the BOA has ruffled feathers.

Andy Hunt
Hunt says cash worries could hurt Team GB's London 2012 preparations

It is against this backdrop that some have suggested any financial problems the BOA has are of its own design.

The West End-based organisation posted a £550,000 profit in 2009 - after losing nearly £3m over the previous two years - but this was down to the sale of its former headquarters. That deal wiped out a £1m operating loss.

More worrying are the rising wage costs at the BOA. It spent more than half its income (£4.2m) on salaries in 2009, the most recent set of accounts. This is more than double the 2005 figure (£1.9m).

Headcount is also rising. In 2009, the BOA employed 57 staff, up from 48 in 2005 and 2006, and that number has increased in recent months.

The BBC understands the organisation has just hired eight "sport engagement officers" on long-term contracts of up to £60,000 each. These recruits have taken the BOA's "performance" team to almost 30, more than the corresponding unit at UK Sport. Average pay at the BOA is now over £70,000 and the wage bill is expected to hit £5m in the next set of accounts.

UK Sport's chair, Baroness Sue Campbell, reacted to Hunt's comments in diplomatic tones.

"Through UK Sport, the government is putting unprecedented amounts of money from both the National Lottery and the Exchequer into our Olympic and Paralympic athletes - and we have been able to supplement that through private-sector support," she said.

"The funding sports are receiving is the best ever going into a Games and we are confident this will translate into our best performance at a Games in over 100 years.

"There is no question that all our medal prospects have enough funding to be able to compete to the best of their ability at London 2012.

"The final part of an Olympic athlete's journey is becoming part of Team GB and going to the Games. This is where the BOA plays a vital role and where everyone would agree it should prioritise its spend."



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see also
Team GB facing financial crisis
02 Mar 11 |  London 2012
Olympic sports get funding boost
10 Dec 09 |  Olympics
BOA issues team funding warning
20 Oct 09 |  Olympics
BOA helped out by emergency loan
18 Jun 09 |  Olympics
Bodies unite to boost 2012 hopes
25 Feb 09 |  Olympics
Olympic tensions 'must be sorted'
08 Oct 07 |  Olympics 2012


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