Basketball Ireland have released a statement in response to the government funding afforded to the FAI last week, claiming there are double-standards afforded to other sporting bodies.
The government announced last week that a refinancing deal with the Football Association of Ireland involving UEFA and Bank of Ireland had come to fruition.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross announced on Thursday that, following a meeting with the FAI, Sport Ireland’s funding will be restored to the association.
It has been doubled from €2.9m a year to €5.8m a year for 2020 to 2023. The government will also provide an interest-free loan of €2.5m a year between 2020 and 2022.
— Basketball Ireland (@BballIrl) February 4, 2020
Basketball Ireland released a statement on Tuesday claiming it would appear that double standards are at play in Irish sport, while documenting previous difficulties faced by their own association.
“The basketball community in Ireland has been following with interest the announcement surrounding another major sports body, which has benefited from a funding agreement in recent days to allow it time and resources to recover from financial difficulties.
“While we wish those involved in that sport the very best in navigating their way through what will undoubtedly be a difficult few years to come, the Board wishes to express the frustration of many basketball enthusiasts in our 300,000+ strong community, as it would appear that double standards may be at play for sports that fall outside what are considered the popular sports.
“In 2008, when Basketball Ireland ran into financial difficulties, we found ourselves with an unexpected black hole of debt and financial penalties totalling €1.5 million.
“At our darkest time, a similar agreement to that which was awarded last week would have considerably changed the trajectory of Basketball Ireland and would have proven to be a lifeline.
“Instead, the organisation entered a difficult period with no financial assistance.”
The statement continues, outlining the changes forced upon Basketball Ireland in 2008.
- Call an immediate halt to our international team programmes, thus damaging the career prospects of a large number of underage players.
- Make half of our employees redundant.
- Reduce the debt through putting a levy on our own members.
- Basketball Ireland was deemed ineligible for the Capital Sports Programme for five years until the above had been achieved.
- The Government imposed a significant fine on us, which served to worsen our financial position.
- A significant grant, which had been approved for the refurbishment of the National Basketball Arena, was abruptly withdrawn and never reinstated.
Basketball Ireland’s statement can be read in full here.
Bernard O’Byrne of Basketball Ireland spoke earlier today where he outlined the reasons behind the statement. The association’s general secretary was once one of the top figures in the FAI.
He replaced John Delaney’s father, Joe, as the association’s treasurer following the “Merriongate” scandal before eventually rising to the chief executive role.
It has been widely reported that O’Byrne’s spell with the FAI saw him repeatedly at loggerheads with former chief executive Delaney.
“This is nothing personal for me or anyone on the board. We felt it was important to get the feelings of our grassroots across,” O’Byrne told The42.ie.
“The FAI have effectively received a get-out-of-jail-free card so we felt obliged to speak out,” he continued.
“What’s the point in staying quiet and pretending as if everything is rosy when that is not the case?
“We have to shout, we have to get our point across because we make ourselves out to be a great sporting country but there are double standards here.”