Scottish Daily Mail

I’m ab­so­lutely ter­ri­fied by this ... we thought the fund­ing was com­ing

- DUN­CAN SMIL­LIE OWNER OF GLAS­GOW ROCKS Sports · Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport · England · Manchester · United Arab Emirates · British Basketball League · British Basketball

I’M sit­ting here at three o’clock on Fri­day, hav­ing just done pay­roll. I don’t make pay­roll in De­cem­ber with­out fund­ing. And by fund­ing I mean a grant, not a loan. We started the season in the be­lief that the grants were com­ing. At the end of Oc­to­ber they didn’t. They haven’t ar­rived at the end of Novem­ber, ei­ther. The Bri­tish Bas­ket­ball League en­gaged with the De­part­ment for Cul­ture, Me­dia and Sport a cou­ple of months ago. If you’re ask­ing for tax­pay­ers’ money, you can’t just ask for a big pot of money. We filled in all the forms, sub­mit­ted ac­counts, cash flow, bud­gets, pay­roll, PAYE; the minu­tiae of de­tail we pro­vided was to show what we needed, even while mak­ing mas­sive cost cuts. There were three or four rounds go­ing back or for­ward. And, at all times, DCMS were telling the league: ‘Yeah, you’re look­ing good, your num­bers stack up. Don’t worry about it. It’ll be okay. It’s not an if, it’s a when and a how.’ So we started our season in good faith. And, all through this, it’s been 11 clubs work­ing to­gether. About a month ago, we were told funds would then be al­lo­cated through Sport Eng­land. Well, Sport Eng­land doesn’t work for me. Then came an an­nounce­ment, made in West­min­ster last week, that there would be this fig­ure (£4mil­lion) set aside for bas­ket­ball. As it stands, I don’t be­lieve any­one has seen a sin­gle penny. And no­body knows if this will be com­ing as grants or loans. Now, no­body can af­ford to pay a loan back. I’m not tak­ing out a loan that I can’t pay back. You put a six-fig­ure loan on my bal­ance sheet and it makes me in­sol­vent. At best, it’s un­eth­i­cal to take out a loan you can’t re­pay. At worst, it’s il­le­gal. I’m now deal­ing with SportScot­land and, for the avoid­ance of doubt, they’ve been very, very help­ful for me. They’ve been phe­nom­e­nally help­ful, al­ways work­ing with me. But they’re caught up in the pol­i­tics of it all. I’m guess­ing that, if there is money for Scot­land, it’s com­ing to us. But if it comes in a loan in­stead of a grant, we just can’t de­liver a season. It would mean the Rocks go­ing into sev­eral hun­dred thou­sand pounds of debt that they’d never get out of. A loan isn’t fund­ing. I find that baf­fling. There are other sports that are very im­por­tant like ice hockey and net­ball. But the big dif­fer­ence is that they are not play­ing just now. Last week­end we had games. My team are on the road to Manch­ester right now. We’ve got travel, ho­tels, food bills. I’ve got a game on Sun­day at the Emi­rates Arena. My season has started — in good faith that fund­ing was com­ing. Noth­ing has come so far and, as it stands right now, my season is not vi­able with­out grants to see us through. I am ter­ri­fied by this. Ab­so­lutely ter­ri­fied. And I’ve got ten other teams work­ing very closely with DCMS and Sport Eng­land — while I’m yet again stuck at the tap end of the bath. I feel very, very ex­posed here. I would not have started my season, brought in play­ers and coaches and put a pro­gramme to­gether with­out be­liev­ing fund­ing was com­ing. I re­ally hope I don’t look back and re­gret that de­ci­sion. Be­cause, if there wasn’t go­ing to be fund­ing, we should have just moth­balled for a year. I’m haem­or­rhag­ing money. It keeps me awake at night and it’s start­ing to get re­ally, re­ally ter­ri­fy­ing. With no fund­ing, the Rocks can­not de­liver a season. We would have to moth­ball un­til next season.

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