The bid to restore sport’s savaged funding levels kicked-off yesterday with a call for the Government to increase their commitment to the sector by €4.4m in the next two years.
The pre-Budget call from the Federation of Irish Sport would see the Government’s commitment to current funding – as opposed to capital projects — return to 2011 levels by the time the next Olympic Games takes place in Rio de Janeiro.
Current funding has been diluted by 27% in the last six years.
“A reversal of a portion of the cuts imposed on current funding as a result of the recession is now vital to ensure that our existing athletes are adequately prepared as they launch into Olympic and Paralympic qualification, but also that efforts to grow grassroots participation can continue,” said Federation CEO Sarah O’Connor.
Irish Sports Council chairman Kieran Mulvey expressed the hope earlier this year that sport had, indeed, experienced the last of the snips to its slice of the fiscal pie and there have been some encouraging developments this last 12 months.
€40m was set aside for capital projects in the last Budget and the Federation noted yesterday the 9% reversal of the cuts imposed on current funding since 2011 is slightly ahead of anticipated growth rates of 7.5% for the next two years. All funding goes, not just to elite athletes as they prepare for Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2016 and beyond, but to projects for the 2.5 million who participate in sport and the 12.6% of the population who don’t.
The Federation, which announced Dublin’s Bernard Brogan as its first president, also called on the Government to extend the tax relief currently in place for donations to sporting bodies in connection to capital projects to items of current spend. “Irish sport does want to help itself in this regard and is looking to government to assist in the development of a culture of private sector investment in sport,” a statement said.
“Irish sport is the only contributor to the not-for-profit sector not to benefit from a tax relief on ‘current spend’.”
Programmes that would benefit from this would include those that bring different sports to new places; support existing and developing athletes; target hard-to-reach members of communities and develop coaches and look after athletes. In the US, on average 25% of a university athletic programme is funded by private donations. The Australian Sports Foundation has raised AUS$230m (€158.7m) since 1986 whilst BC Sport rose CAN$ 1.2m (€0.84m) in 2013.
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