Scottish Daily Mail

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

- DUNCAN SMILLIE OWNER OF GLASGOW ROCKS

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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