Boxing: Golden girl Katie in line for funding cut
KATIE Taylor and the rest of Ireland's boxing heroes in London may find their individual grants cut by the Irish Sports Council (ISC) in future, due to a major review of the ISC's 'carding' scheme.
Olympic champion Taylor and bronze medallists John Joe Nevin, Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan were among 10 Irish boxers who received the top level of individual grant (€40,000) under this year's 'carding' scheme.
But a major review, conducted by British company KKP and started ahead of the London Olympics, has suggested that Ireland's most successful athletes, across all sports, may not need to receive the top level of funding if their success and profile give them the capacity to benefit from sponsorship and other earnings.
The report also notes that Irish boxing's world-class high-performance system supports its athletes so well that their cost of living may not be comparable to some other Irish athletes.
As revealed by the Irish Independent, the cash-for-medals bonus that previously existed – and from which the top boxers also benefited – has already been removed for 2013, although performance incentives may be restored on a sport-specific basis in future.
Professional Irish cyclists like Nicolas Roche and Daniel Martin, and teams of any kind, will no longer be eligible for 'carding' support under the first raft of changes.
As also revealed by the Irish Independent, athletes who did not meet their performance targets this year because they were sick or injured will also not qualify for individual grants next year because it is felt that the governing bodies' annual 'core' high-performance grants can cater for them.
And yesterday's report also confirmed that there is a concerted move to stamp out the double funding from which some Ulster athletes benefit, with the ISC and Sport Northern Ireland set to collaborate closely in this area.
Olympic gymnast Kieran Behan will also not qualify for an individual grant next year because his sport is among those who do not yet have performance plans approved by the Sports Council.
The current three-tier level of grants (€40,000, €20,000 and €12,000) is expected to continue for 2013, depending on next month's Budget.
However, among the phased changes, which include the sporting bodies taking over responsibility for the scheme, should be much more flexibility between those bands from 2014 onwards.
The report emphasised that the biggest bug-bear among athletes is the gap between the top two levels and how some of those on the top level may not need that amount of funding because of their own earning power. It said the grants should more closely reflect athletes' individual costs of living.
However, it also noted that there was a culture of "entitlement" amongst some athletes rather than seeing the grant system as an investment and a new "social responsibility" clause is being introduced this year which will involve recipients doing promotional and mentoring work for their sports.
The report described the Irish grant system as "financially generous" compared to other countries, noting that it is not means-tested, which is the case in the UK.
And it noted that "some athletes are felt to play the system, targeting achievable goals as opposed to ultimate goals".
The same company that completed the review is also currently doing a post-Olympic debrief with all sports. That report is expected in mid-January and, combined with the 'carding' review, will help decide Irish sports' strategy for Rio 2016.