By Gary Anderson

The head of British Basketball has welcomed news that UK Sport is to launch a public consultation into its funding policy ©Getty ImagesUK Sport has announced that it is to launch a first ever public consultation into how it distributes funding following fierce criticism of its "no compromise" policy which led to the slashing of funding to a number of governing bodies earlier this year.

The Government agency controversially withdrew all funding for seven sports earlier this year after it deemed that they were not meeting strict targets in terms of success on the international stage, including at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Weightlifting subsequently had its funding reinstated but basketball, synchronised swimming, water polo, visually impaired football, goalball and wheelchair fencing all had their funding withdrawn back in February.

UK Sport, which invests £125 million ($203 million/€161 million) a year into elite-level sport, claimed it was because was no evidence that any of the sports could win medals at Rio 2016 or Tokyo 2020.

Since the funding body, which distributes public and National Lottery money, began pumping cash into elite sport, Britain has moved from 36th on the medal table at Atlanta 1996, where it won just one gold medal, to finishing third at London 2012, winning a record 65 medals, including 29 gold.

But UK Sport's chief executive Liz Nicholl has revealed a revision of its "no compromise" policy may be on the cards claiming that the body is "not arrogant enough to think that we know how to do everything best."

"The questions that we need to ask now, of the nation, of the Government, of our partners, are: 'What is it that they want UK Sport to be focused on?" she told the BBC.

"What is it they want UK Sport to deliver?'

"We will review what we hear from the consultation; we will refine our thinking and agree a direction of travel in February [2015]."

Since UK Sport began funding elite sport in 1997, Britain has gone from 36th on medal table at Atlanta 1996 to third at London 2012, where it won 29 gold medals, including Jessica Ennis ©Getty ImagesSince UK Sport began funding elite sport in 1997, Britain has gone from 36th on medal table at Atlanta 1996 to third at London 2012, where it won 29 gold medals, including Jessica Ennis ©Getty Images

Basketball was one of the biggest losers during the funding cull earlier this year.

Following a disappointing performance at London 2012, where Britain's men's and women's teams only won one of 10 matches at the Games, British Basketball had its £7 million ($11.5 million/€8.5 million) funding cut.

But, following an appeal, the funding was reinstated dependant on certain "strict performance criteria" being met which included both men's and women's teams qualifying for this year's Basketball World Cups.

Both sides' failed to do so, leading to funding being withdrawn for a second time.

British Basketball lost an appeal to the UK Sport Board in March, after making representations urging the money be reinstated.

Performance chairman at British Basketball, Roger Moreland, has led the calls for an urgent review of how funding is distributed claiming that team sports were being discriminated against.

These calls became louder after the British women's team qualified for its third consecutive EuroBasket finals while Moreland called on British Sports Minister Helen Grant to step in and help resolve the situation.

Earlier this month, Grant indicated that some headway was being made on the issue after it was revealed that Sport England, which provides funding for grassroots sports in Britain, agreed to provide £500,000 ($810,000/€643,000) per year to support elite level athletes and programmes if the figure is matched from elsewhere.

British Basketball had been set a target of qualifying for both the men's and women's basketball World Cups in 2014 but failed to do so ©AFP/Getty ImagesBritish Basketball had been set a target of qualifying for both the men's and women's basketball World Cups in 2014 but failed to do so ©AFP/Getty Images

Moreland welcomed today's announcement, highlighting the reach and popularity of basketball which claims to be the second biggest team sport among 14 to16 year-olds in the UK, and is played by nearly 218,000 people each week.

"This review is a very welcome and timely development," he said.

"It will hopefully lead to a more balanced funding approach that fills the gap for sports such as basketball that have a huge grass roots base, are showing potential at elite level but have yet to achieve Olympic medal success.

"Basketball is a sport that has genuine impact across a whole range of participation and social inclusion indicators.

"A refreshed approach to elite funding would help to close the funding gap and create a win-win, not just for basketball, but also for other team sports.

"We look forward to playing a full and constructive role in the UK Sport public consultation."

Nicholl has claimed, that while medal success at elite level is still the main priority for UK Sport, more emphasis may be placed on those sports that demonstrate high levels of participation.

"We always listen to what sports are saying and give very careful consideration to whether that means we should be doing something differently," she said. 

"We're hearing quite a few comments from team sports, particularly basketball, sports that are not funded by us in this cycle because they are more than eight years away from developing medal potential.

"One of the points raised by our Board is a strong view that we should aim to drive more impact from what we do.

"And the impact isn't just in creating the medals and the medallists.

"It is also through inspiring the next generation to participate in sport and promoting equality and diversity."

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