HARROW Athletics Club have had their coaching grant withdrawn by Harrow Council just a year before the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The £5,950 grant – cut from £8,000 last year – has funded expenses for the club's 20 coaches, who provide specialised coaching for the club's 450 athletes, along with equipment, since 1981.
Harrow AC, who are in National League One for both men and women and the Southern Premier in the National Young Athletes League, has a long pedigree of producing Olympians including Dean Macey, Andy Baddeley and Mara Yamuchi.
But the move from Harrow Council threatens to hit participation rates in the borough – the very opposite of the Olympic ideal.
Harrow AC chairman, Tony Bush, said: “Lord Sebastian Coe is talking about the legacy of the London Olympics and yet the year before it, a London council is cutting funding for a major Olympic sport to one of the most successful clubs in Harrow Borough.
“We are holding emergency meetings now to review what we will do. We may have to increase our subscriptions, which will have a knock-on effect on athletes.
“We also run a whole series of meetings for schools, cross country in the winter, track and field in the summer and help with the London Youth Games and trials for the London Mini Marathon. We have done all that as part of a gentleman's agreement with the council, but we may have to start charging for it now.”
Harrow AC failed to achieve the 95 per cent mark in a points-scoring system run by the council to decide on the selection criteria for funding.
The club received low marks in terms of demonstrating a need for the service, diversity and targeting, along with sustainability if the funding ceased.
Cllr David Perry, portfolio holder for community and cultural services on Harrow Council, said:”Promoting sport and participation ahead of the London Olympics is important to us.
“However, we received a record number of applications for funding this year with 131 bids asking for a total of £2.3 million. The total grants fund is £669,360 and the severity of government cuts means we cannot give voluntary groups as much funding as we would like.
“Harrow Athletics Club did appeal against the original funding decision and their application was reassessed, with the scores for diversity increased. However, their overall score still fell short ofthe 95% mark required to secure funding.”