UK Sport sets out blueprint for future funding

Wed 13 Feb 2019

UK Sport has set out its future funding strategy for Olympic and Paralympic sport, and in a dramatic break with its previous “No Compromise” policy, some funding will now be extended to sports that have future rather than immediate podium potential.

The new strategy, which will come into force in April 2021 for the Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 Olympic and Paralympic cycles, has been created following an extensive year’s work by UK Sport that included an independent Public Consultation and a series of evidence sessions with key stakeholders.

This new approach could mean more consistent funding for Senior GB Baseball and GB Softball National Teams in future provided that the sports remain on the Olympic programme.

Funding tiers

UK Sport’s new strategy includes three tiers of funding that will channel investment into different stages of the performance pathway to enable the continued pursuit of medal success while also developing the next generation of athletes and allowing more sports to realise their Olympic and Paralympic ambitions.

The funding tiers are:

Podium:  Investment to athletes and teams with a realistic chance of an Olympic or Paralympic podium position within four years.

Podium Potential:  Investment to athletes and teams with a realistic chance of an Olympic or Paralympic podium position within four to eight years.

Progression:  Investment to enable sports and athletes to take the first step on the performance pathway towards future podium success.

This approach means that future investment will continue to be focused on Olympic and Paralympic sports and prioritised towards athletes that demonstrate the greatest potential to deliver medal success at the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, a position supported by 61% of nearly 5,000 respondents to UK Sport’s recent consultation and designed to maintain the UK’s position as one of the world’s leading Olympic and Paralympic nations.

But at the same time, the new Podium Potential and Progression investment streams will allow more sports to benefit from investment and more communities to be engaged and impacted, and this is a significant departure from the agency’s previous hard-line approach.

Every Sport Matters

While no detail has yet been offered on the amounts of money that will be dedicated to the different investment streams, the new approach reflects the arguments put forward over the past two years by the Every Sport Matters (ESM) group of unfunded Olympic and Paralympic sports – a group in which baseball/softball has been a key participant.

The ESM group met on a number of occasions with top officials at UK Sport and with the previous Sports Minister, Tracey Crouch, to argue that unless every Olympic and Paralympic sport received at least a baseline level of investment, it would be hard for these sports to maintain performance programmes that could widen the range of sports capable of achieving medal success.


Following the announcement of the new strategy, UK Sport Chair Dame Katherine Grainger said: “As an investor of significant public funds, it is right UK Sport should ask the general public whether we should continue aiming to inspire the nation through medal success and whether we could change our focus in any way.

“The findings have allowed us to create an exciting blueprint for the future of Olympic and Paralympic sport in the UK and put the athlete at the heart of everything we do.  We are confident the new strategy will help sustain medal success while enabling more communities to be inspired by the power of high performance sport.”

Bob Fromer from the GB Softball Management Committee, who represents baseball/softball on the Every Sport Matters group, said, “It’s exciting to see that UK Sport has listened to our arguments, and to views put forward during their public consultation, and has widened their approach to funding elite sport.  This will make for a much healthier sporting environment in the UK.

“While the devil will be in the detail regarding the amount of money assigned to the Progression funding stream and how it can be accessed, there seems every reason to be at least cautiously optimistic that this new approach from UK Sport will give more top athletes from more sports, including baseball and softball, a greater chance to realise their full potential.”

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