Sport : Tennis

Tennis funding put on hold

17th December 2012, 04:24pm

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The LTA has had some of its funding put on hold

The LTA has had some of its funding put on hold

Tennis has had millions of pounds of funding put on hold unless the sport's governing body can improve its plan to boost participation.

Swimming has also had three years of funding withheld until it can prove its new blueprint to increase numbers is working.

The 'get-tough' policy to penalise underperforming bodies was revealed by Sport England as it announced the 2013-17 funding levels for all sports.

The Lawn Tennis Association may be basking in the reflected glory of Andy Murray's unprecedented year of success but its four-year plan for increasing the numbers of people playing the sport was declared "simply not strong enough" and £10.3million of its £17.4million total allocation has been put on hold.

Other sports such as cycling, netball, triathlon and wheelchair basketball have all enjoyed funding rises of more than 30 per cent. All of the Paralympic sports have seen their funding increase.

For tennis, the overall funding will go down from £24.5million to £17.4million and the LTA will have to produce a convincing new plan on how it will spend the 2014-17 money, otherwise it will be distributed in other ways, such as directly to clubs or via trusts and foundations.

Sport England chief executive Jennie Price said: "Tennis has not performed well in terms of participation and is broadly flat, though it got a bit of bounce in the latest figures.

"Their plan simply wasn't strong enough to justify the four-year investment.

"Our hope with tennis is that they do access the full four years. They have only a one-year award for participation and they have to improve their plan for growing participation.

"The current plan doesn't have a good delivery plan across the country, there is not a good feedback mechanism, it is not really based on customer insight but the LTA know about all these things and we are working with them."

The LTA insists it is on the right track, and doing well with identifying promising talent, but admits there is still work to be done in boosting participation.

Simon Long, the LTA's chief commercial officer who was appointed in June and who heads up the body's participation team, said: "£17.4million is a substantial potential award for British tennis, and we are working closely with Sport England to ensure that we develop the best tennis offers to increase participation, whilst continuing to deliver a leading talent programme."

Some 31 of the 46 sports are getting increases, including cycling £32million (up from £24.7million), netball £25.3million (£18.7million), triathlon £7.5million (£4.7million) and wheelchair basketball £2million (£700,000).

Football's Sport England funding will also rise by £4.4million to £30million.

In relation to swimming, Price said the sport's new plan needed to produce results to turn around a 300,000 drop in the numbers of people taking part in order to secure the withheld funding.

She added: "Swimming has really struggled to drive participation but they have a brand-new plan and a brand-new director who has made a reasonable start.

"We didn't have the evidence for four years but we are giving them a one-year investment to prove the plan is capable.

"It is a similar situation with basketball."

David Sparkes, chief executive of the Amateur Swimming Association, said the body was "disappointed" to only be given one-year of funding initially but that "we are encouraged by the confidence Sport England has shown in our plans to increase swimming participation levels over the next four years".

Cricket, rugby union and rugby league have all had big overall cuts but Price insisted the governing bodies were comfortable with the drop.

Cricket's funding drops from £35.2million to £27.5million, rugby union from £28.8million to £20million, and rugby league £27.6million to £17.5million.

Price said cricket had taken the decision to fund its women and disability programmes itself rather than rely on Sport England funding, and the sport will receive less for spending on capital projects such as facilities.

Rugby union and league were both given large capital investments in the past four years to spend on facilities and were not expecting similar levels this time around, said Price.

She added: "Cricket looks like quite a big drop but there is a significant reduction in the talent programme - they have decided to invest their own money into their women and disability programmes and that is a good thing for a responsible governing body to do. We have spoken to (England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive) David Collier and the word he used was 'delighted'."

Cycling's increase is a reward for a big rise in participation - more than 200,000 more people are now cycling at least once per week compared to October 2011.

At least 60 per cent of the £433million total will be targeted at young people aged between 14 and 25, with £83million aimed at developing talented young athletes in 43 sports.

Canoeing and sailing are among the sports receiving increased investment targeted at their talent programmes.


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