After months of negotiations, a way forward has been agreed to protect and grow the future of British Basketball. The Home Country Associations (HCAs) of England, Scotland and Wales, along with UK Sport and the UK Government have all helped to craft a sustainable and affordable plan that will safeguard the interests of all our members, whether at grass roots or in our national teams.
To reach this position we have worked closely with a number of crucial stakeholders, including the British Basketball League (BBL), alongside strong support from the Minister for Sport, Tracey Crouch, Alex Sobel MP, Sir Mike Penning MP, UK Sport and Sport England. We would like to thank them for their support during negotiations.
Our immediate focus
Unfortunately, the agreement had to be reached via the calling of an Exceptional General Meeting involving HCAs and British Basketball Federation (BBF), the organisation that runs the GB national teams. It was not possible to get complete agreement with BBF Board on crucial aspects of the way forward. As a result, the Board of BBF has elected toresign.
We will now work together to formulate a detailed way forward that all the governing bodies in the sport will deliver in partnership to achieve the following:
• Keep our national teams on court and engage them more in the sport as a whole
• Ensure continued solvency for BBF and file BBF annual accounts, which are still outstanding
• Ensure that BBF is fit for purpose in terms of structure and the composition of its Board
• Provide a forum for everyone to work together on key issues, including, but not limited to, performance basketball
• Work together in raising significant commercial revenue
• Share ideas and resources wherever possible.
All parties will now immediately focus on getting GB teams on court and reducing management overheads as we work to develop the sport from a strong foundation.
Building strong HCAs and a strong GB
At the heart of discussions has been one central question: should we financially damage community basketball that is the lifeblood of our sport and that offers hope and opportunity to thousands of young people, in the hope of achieving success at GB level.
Throughout this process, the associations of England, Scotland and Wales have been united in their belief that success at GB level will only occur with strong HCAs, with effective pathways through to the senior teams, and with an acceptance that we are not an affluent sport at this time and need to cut our cloth accordingly. However, we believe that being pragmatic does not stop us from being ambitious for the sport we love.
We are acutely conscious that making the necessary cuts will be difficult in the short term. However, our priority in balancing the budget will be to keep players on court above all else, including working to ensure that we are able to field strong under–20s GB teams.
We believe that we need to work within our means and make sure that our resources are allocated to the community game, as well as the talent system. We believe that strong relationships within the game will be the foundation for strong and sustainable national teams, both on and off the court.
Recent media leaks
We would like to apologise to the basketball community across Great Britain which has had to deal with a confusing and fragmented picture of recent discussions with the British Basketball Federation, especially over the last few weeks, due to a steady stream of leaked information.
Direct communication with our membership is always important and we believe that there is a right way to do this. These leaks were out of our control and the HCAs have been united in refusing to engage in such tactics, which we believe only served to damage our sport.
As a national basketball community, we have seen that great things can happen when we come together. The Jr. NBA, the Special Olympics, amazing performances for Scotland and England at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the recent coming together of community and national bodies to keep courts affordable in Edinburgh are all examples. Unsung volunteers across GB are putting in time and effort to support those initiatives in clubs, schools, and with our GB teams. We believe that team work is vital to the future success for our sport.
We will make additional updates to the membership of our associations in the near future.