Shropshire Star

West Yorkshire cricket club seeks ‘fairness not favours’ over funding

Sport England has ‘very limited scope’ to finance projects with non-Lottery funds.

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A cricket club in West Yorkshire feel their plans to create a multi-sports facility have been stuck in a seven-year limbo because they cannot accept National Lottery funding.

Grassroots funding body Sport England states on its website it offers “very limited scope to fund smaller projects” with non-Lottery money for those organisations which cannot accept Lottery cash for religious reasons, because it derives from gambling.

However, this inability to back bigger capital projects without using Lottery money is seen as a “disparity” by Abdul A Ravat, the player and development officer at Mount Cricket Club in Batley, one which he says has created “perpetual inequity” for clubs like his.

Mount developed a feasibility study with full backing and funding from the England and Wales Cricket Board and Yorkshire for a £2million redevelopment of their ‘Field of Dreams’ site back in 2017, but Ravat says those plans are now “collecting dust”.

“For those clubs like ours with a particular ethical principle and stance the thought about collecting money from gambling is basically a red line,” Ravat told the PA news agency.

“The only possible place for us to get funding is through our governing bodies, who are really relying on Lottery funding.

Children, parents and staff pictured at a Disability Fun Day at Mount Cricket Club
Children and staff gather at a disability fun day hosted by Mount in 2017 (Handout from Mount CC/PA)

“(Accepting that funding) is not something that we consider to be inside the boundary line. That places us in a state of perpetual inequity and disparity.

“Clubs like ours that have done so much in the community. The cricket authorities want all the good stuff that we do – and rightly so – and we’re asking for help to improve our facilities, which I would argue are third rate.

“We don’t offer changing rooms which separate girls and boys. The rugby club next door doesn’t have any (changing) facility, so the poor girls and boys change in their parents’ cars outside if they’re lucky enough.

“What we want is fairness, not favours.”

Children at a 2019 school holiday camp enjoy a hot meal together at Mount Cricket Club
Children at a 2019 school holiday camp enjoy a hot meal together at Mount Cricket Club (Handout from Mount CC/PA)

Mount has for many years been active within their local community and are committed to making cricket more inclusive, with initiatives across girls and women’s cricket, disability cricket and inter-faith encounters, most famously with the Vatican St Peter’s team.

Mount ran a ‘Healthy Holidays Summer Camp’, in partnership with Kirklees Youth Alliance (KYA) and supported by Kirklees Council in 2019, which provided sport and educational activity plus a hot meal to local children in the school holidays, and has operated similar programmes since then.

Ravat is confident the benefits of the project will enable Mount to do even more, but says: “All those plans that were put out and assessed with the full co-operation of the local authority are collecting dust unfortunately – nothing has happened.

“We keep knocking on the door. We keep going around the circle and no one’s listening to us. So what are we supposed to do?

“The inequity and the disparity that we face in terms of access to funds is not being reflected. We’re not alone in that, I’ve had calls and conversations with (clubs from) other faith communities, who share the concerns we have.”

Gulfraz Riaz, the chair of the National Asian Cricket Council, an advisory body to the ECB, said: “This has been going on for a number of years. I would have thought that somebody somewhere would have been able to find a solution of some nature.

“We absolutely understand (Abdul’s) position and we know one or two examples around the country where it has affected other people with their programme.

“If Sport England and the National Lottery are now fully aware and Abdul has brought it to their attention that some entities from the Muslim faith are not able to (accept funding) for religious reasons, then it’s up to Sport England and the National Lottery to be able to answer that in some capacity.”

Sport England said: “We invest in opportunities for people of all backgrounds to get active and enjoy sport.

“Sport England currently has a major fund – the Movement Fund – open to grassroots organisations.

“Accepting that not all organisations feel able to accept Lottery funding, applicants can make us aware of their requirements and we will do our best to accommodate this from available Exchequer funding.”

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