British Ice Hockey Could Get an Unexpected Windfall

A newspaper report earlier this week noted that the funding of Sport England could be under threat as the main beneficiaries of its funding are making millions in profit. Sport England is a government quango charged with distributing money from taxpayers and the lottery to sporting causes.

In the past this has benefited all sports including ice hockey and was a major part of the funding for Ice Sheffield, the dual ice pad arena in Sheffield. However the biggest winners in the past year were the Football Association and the Rugby Football Union (RFU) yet the RFU made £14.5m ($28m) in the last year and was in recent of around £9m ($15m) a year.

This has left many to wonder is it right at a time of tight fiscal planning for public money to be spent on essentially losing national teams whose players earn hundreds of thousands if not millions of pounds a year. Meanwhile a promising national team such as the Great Britain ice hockey team is left on a shoe string budget.

Therefore if Sport England is to keep its level of funding surely it would be best to diversify to those sports where players are earning far less and profits are low if any. Ice hockey in the UK of course has some issues and hurdles to overcome. For a start it is a Great Britain national team but this should not be allowed to stop it from applying for this funding instead Ice Hockey Uk (the overseeing body) should be allowed to apply for funding from all the sports quango’s including Sport England and Sport Scotland as they represent all of those internationally.

The second issue is that of lottery funding. Ice hockey in the UK is prohibited from some lottery funding because the national team is not represent at the Olympics. This is inherently unfair on ice hockey as only 12 teams are represented at the games. Compare this to other sports where many more countries are represented. In swimming or athletics for example any individual making the qualifying time is eligible to be selected and therefore eligible for funding regardless of how poor their performance at the games maybe.  Even handball, a sport at which Great Britain is ranked one of the lowest in the world, received £1.4m in funding for its senior teams. If this was to change the Great Britain ice hockey team could access more funding for training camps for example and would make a difference at world championships and Olympic qualification.

By changing the rules and giving more funding to sports like ice hockey instead of rugby union and football the Great Britain ice hockey team would benefit massively and take the next step towards Olympic qualification and Sport England and Sport UK would keep its funding level. A win win as all parties would benefit and ultimately the youth side of sports would be able to develop further. Not only this but if that change were to happen soon an almost immediate return on that investment could be witnessed given the vast improvement in recent world championships of the Great Britain team.

Neil Tucker

Neil has written on ice hockey for many websites concentrating on British ice hockey mostly. Neil also covers ice hockey in other countries and organises his Blueliner Hockey Tour. A graduate of the Manchester Metropolitan University Neil turned his hand to hockey writing in 2009. As well as contributing on Blueliner Hockey Neil has contributed to Get Real Hockey and Slapshot Magasine.

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