I can assure you that the Brexit poll results weren’t the only shock in the last 10 days.

England losing to Iceland, NBA free agent signings are two things this week which also have surprised many.

These surprises all coming within a relatively short time made me think about the elements they have in common – the vast amounts money invested.

I’m pretty certain that any fan of British basketball must’ve got thinking…

“What if such (or even some…) money was invested into basketball in the UK?”

 I did, so therefore I have tried to seemingly combine the three topics in one post.

Football Results – (High paid – Underperforming)

This is the first and last time I write about football – I promise.

Iceland, a country with a population of only 300,000 (10% of the nation where the match) and a manager on a part-time contract, also a dentist (!!) knocked out England, nation of the best league in the world. For the Icelandic side, this is great, but for a team such as England, each player earning around whopping £100k per week, not to mention the extra funding, this is an abysmal performance.

Oh did I mention that Iceland have no professional clubs?

The seemingly endless amounts of money the sport has access to, especially when the performance is borderline laughable, makes me wonder why is all of that money invested in football and near none in basketball? I mean, surely it isn’t that hard to as well as the England football team have done, with just a fraction of the investment right?

NBA Free Agency (High Paid – High Performance)

At the moment, looks like everyone in the NBA is hitting the jackpot! There has been a frenzy of signings already, the most notable signing for me is Mike Conley’s contract.


Just yesterday he just became the most paid basketball player in history (on contract alone) signing a $153million/ 5 year deal, which will see him earn $30.6M a year! Not bad, for a guy who has 13.6ppg in his career and is still yet to make an all-star team!

Another notable signing, especially for Brit ballers, is Luol Deng, one of the more versatile players in the league just signed a lucrative deal $(72 million) with the LA Lakers. He has had interest from the Hollywood side stemming back to nearly a decade now.

The now Laker even addressed David Cameron in an open letter, explaining that many cutting the funds to Basketball is not the right way to go, just as we begin to make progress. Basketball is now the 2nd most participated sport in the UK – behind football.

The Message – You Can Do Better Outside The Country

The message sent to the players in the UK by not funding their pathways is that you can do better outside of the country, a message somewhat replicated to players who have been drafted in the NBA, but currently play overseas.

Take Jan Vesely for example, last played for Fenerbahce Ulker in Turkey, although he has was drafted and last played for the Wizards – To me, it is no surprise that he is considering his options (probably trying to go back to the NBA) as everyone is cashing in this Free Agency period.

Nobody knows what will happen, but, I think everyone can see what he hopes will happen!

Funding – Basketball in the UK

From a business standpoint, some may understand the rationale for cutting back the funding due to not having the best results from 2012 Olympics. This thought process is counterproductive to the future of basketball -in order possible to grow it needs to be funded and funded continually!

Now although not all of the money goes directly into elite basketball, this has meant considerable cutbacks for our elite side some very likely to impact the performance of Team GB. You can read here about when Kieron Achara said that players on the senior national team had to survive on £15 per day and sleeping on beds which don’t accommodate to the tall players’ needs. You know, not the best start for a team that we all want to do well and be the face of British basketball.

If not for anything else, then at the very least for players at the grassroots level to have something to aspire to. As mentioned before, basketball is the second most participated sport in the UK among those aged 11-16; something more unfortunate to read is that there are many underprivileged kids who count on the funding to participate in the sport.

What to take away  – Basketball in the UK is the Oddball

It’s almost as if on the grassroots level we (Brit Ball) have had similar success to that Iceland football team has on the elite – in terms of participation among tomorrow’s stars and building a name for ourselves (Iceland has moved up 100 places on the FIBA rankings) even the international success isn’t much different from that England football team.

Yet it is them who are walking away with £100k+/week whilst we are almost begging for the funding which, in my opinion, is well within the rights considering what has been achieved as an emerging sport in UK.

Not funding the sport again reiterates my point from last week’s post a dangerous message is sent to aspiring players, that you have to go abroad to be valued – the Premier League esteemed at the highest league in the world is because of the quality of English players. In other countries, English players are highly sought after due to being associated with those who are the best in the world.

Don’t believe me? Do a Google search on who get’s the US Soccer Scholarships!

The problem isn’t limited to only running where the money is, the problem is that unlike Turkey, where Vesely no doubt made a lot of money. Here, with insufficient funding, the UK is a dangerous place for an aspiring player to harbor themselves whilst chasing that dream contract abroad which may or may not materialise – this can actually cause some to quit as other priorities start to dial their number…

What are your thoughts on the way that Basketball is funded in the UK?

Categories: Blog