British Cycling is among the governing bodies that face a nervous wait to see how plummeting sales of National Lottery tickets will affect their funding from UK Sport ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.
Four years ago, after the country’s riders repeated their success at Beijing in 2008 with a similarly dominant performance in London, British Cycling’s funding for the 2013-17 Olympic cycle rose from £26 million to £30.2 million.
Another dominant performance in Rio this summer, where Team GB won 12 cycling medals, 11 of those on the track, exceeded the UK Sport target of 8-10 medals. As a result, bosses at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester would have been entitled to expect another boost in funding for 2017-21.
But according to a report in The Independent, UK Sport faces a £30 million funding shortfall due to the decline in sales of National Lottery tickets, with an appeal by the agency to the Treasury to bridge the gap said to have been rejected.
Funding for individual sports is due to be set at a meeting next Wednesday, with the relevant national governing bodies learning how much they will receive on the Thursday of the following week.
According to National Lottery operator Camelot, ticket sales fell year-on-year by £225 million in the three months to September, and it has warned that further drops are likely.
Rod Carr, UK Sport’s chair, said it plans to appeal directly to Prime Minister Theresa May for more Government funding ahead of next week’s meeting, although it seems unlikely any will be forthcoming.
“The issue for UK Sport is we have to make some difficult decisions,” he said. “We anticipated there was going to be a tighter budget right back in the spring so we have sent expert groups into some of the sports to make sure they are driving the maximum efficiency.
“What everyone will see is that very many of the sports may well have less funding but that’s maybe because of the efficiencies that have been made. But if we don’t get a solution before next Wednesday from Government the reality is that yes we are going to have to make some hard decisions.”
Last week’s Autumn Statement laid bare the state of the UK’s finances, and Carr added: “We understand. We are not stupid. We know what’s going on. On the other hand, it’s a relatively small amount of money, £6 million or £8 million a year.”
UK Sport’s Business Plan for 2013-17 said that income budgeted for the Olympic cycle now coming to an end was £486.5 million. More than two thirds of that - £337 million – was from National Lottery grants, £158 million from the government, and £1.5 million from other sources.
Most of that goes to national governing bodies of Olympic and Paralympic Sports – often one and the same, for example British Cycling received £6.8 million for para-cycling on top of the £30.2 million headline figure – and rowing and athletics also secured more than £30 million each across both streams of funding.
UK Sport also funds Athlete Performance Awards to enable athletes to train and compete full-time – up to £28,000 a year for medallists at Olympic Games or senior world championships or gold medallists at Paralympic Games or senior world championships, with a pound for pound reduction once an athlete’s annual income from other sources exceeds £65,000.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.