Feb 7 2013 by Mark Dowling, Chester Chronicle
BASKETBALL fans in Chester are celebrating after the city’s MP successfully backed a bid to secure Olympic funding.
Last week Conservative MP Stephen Mosley chaired an adjournment debate in the Houses of Parliament following the controversial decision by UK Sport not to hand squads any Olympic funding for Rio 2016.
Previously, UK Sport dished out £8.5m in preparation for London 2012.
Mosley cited the community strength of clubs such as Cheshire Phoenix, which attracts hundreds of fans each time they play at the Northgate Arena, as an example of the talent within the game.
He said: “Cheshire Phoenix is community-owned and community-based. It’s a club with huge aspirations and a huge amount of support, as with other BBL teams.
“The sport is hugely under-funded in the UK when it is the fifth most popular team sport – the second-most popular among 11- to 15-year-olds,”
Mosley’s calls did not, at the time of the debate, win much support with sports minister Hugh Robertson, who was lukewarm with his response.
He said: “It’s important to say this (UK Sport funding) system works – the Australians would kill for this sort of system, as we have produced 65 medals in the last Olympics and were third in the table.
“Funding is not inexhaustible and basketball failed to demonstrate it could qualify for Rio 2016 or get a medal in 2020.”
But since the debate, the sport has won a one-year funding reprieve, with potential for further funding if it demonstrates Olympic potential.
Mr Mosley, vice-chairman of the Basketball All Party Parliamentary Group, was delighted at the U-turn.
He said: “This is absolutely fantastic news and incredibly important for the future of basketball in the UK.
“UK Sport deserves a great deal of credit for going back on their original decision, but they had a compelling case put before them.
“Everyone associated with the game can be incredibly proud of the hard work that they have put in, and although the full four-year funding allocation is dependent on GB’s success at this summer’s EuroBasket tournament, the ball is definitely back in our court.”
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