England teams face Champs funding crisis

England’s international fishing teams face a funding crisis unless a cash injection is found in time for the 2010 World Champs.

Dick Clegg, the country’s international events director, is facing the prospect of having to raise £16,000 to send the veterans and disabled teams to their respective finals, and this figure could double if a major sponsorship of the ladies team is not renewed this week.

It has also emerged that the men’s side, which includes former world champs Alan Scotthorne and Will Raison, will have to shell out up to £1,000 from their own pockets to enter the World Champs, with England’s sea fishing teams having to find even more.

“You shouldn’t have to pay to represent your country,” said Dick. “It annoys me because we have the most successful set of teams in the world. The Angling Trust hasn’t got the money to help our international squads, the tackle trade isn’t doing very well and it’s very difficult to get money from the Government.” he said.

Last year Sport England announced its funding allocations for the four-year period 2009 to 2013, which showed angling will receive just over £1.5m, compared to the £8m-plus obtained by sports such as judo.

“It’s a paltry sum over four years,” said Jackie Sheldon, head of the Angling Development Board, the main angling beneficiary from Sport England.

“Fishing isn’t as developed as other sports and is in the lowest funding category. Sport England doesn’t allocate much funding at a high performance level, it’s more involved in grass roots, increasing participation and developing talent. And money isn’t available from UK Sport because angling isn’t in the Olympics,” said Jackie.

Angling’s classification as a mostly ‘low intensity sport’ also goes against it in the funding stakes. According to Sport England’s last Active People Survey, just 56,700 anglers (mainly game and sea) thought it to be ‘moderately intense’.

“Money is awarded according to how well each sport allows us to deliver our goals for increasing participation and talent in sport. To be counted towards this, people must participate in a sport once a week for at least 30 minutes, at moderate intensity,” explained a UK Sport spokesman.

The reality is that fishing will once more have to look to its own house for support at the top level, where Dick remains ever grateful to the team’s main sponsors Drennan, Sensas and Subfish tackle.

“Without them I don’t know where we’d be. We have to find other ways of funding the teams. Instead of an optional £20 to join the Angling Trust, I’d rather a compulsory 50p or £1 was added on to the cost of a rod licence, so everybody became a member. The Trust would then be able to help fund the teams. Surely nobody could begrudge this amount which would let our teams continue to do us proud at world level?” said Dick.