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British Cycling members warned it will lose millions of pounds in funding if EGM rejects governance reforms

Former chief-executive Peter King doubts that planned changes required to secure public money will get enough support


A former chief executive of British Cycling has warned that the governing body could lose millions of pounds in funding if members vote against proposed reforms to its governance next weekend - and says he doubts the changes will get the required 75 per cent backing.

The changes need to be made to comply with the Code for Sports Governance, launched by UK Sport last year.

The code “sets out the levels of transparency, accountability and financial integrity that will be required from those who ask for Government and National Lottery funding from April 2017."

It also requires that governing bodies in receipt of public funding be "the ultimate decision-making body and exercise all of the powers of the organisation."

British Cycling last month announced the changes it plans to comply with the code, summarising them as follows:

The board being established as the ultimate decision-making body for British Cycling

The appointment of an independent chair by an open recruitment process

National Council continuing to elect a president and a reduced number of Directors. It will preside over the Memorandum and Articles of Association and will act as a key consultative body for the board

A re-structure of the board with an additional independent-appointed director and also directors nominated by Scottish Cycling and Welsh Cycling

Board and national councillors being subject to limited terms.

Adopting a target of a minimum of 30 per cent of each gender on the board as well as achieving gender parity and greater diversity generally on the board.

> British Cycling outlines proposed changes to its governance

But Peter King, who was British Cycling chief executive from 1997 to 2008, has told BBC Sport he does not expect the proposed changes to be approved by the organisation’s members at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) this weekend.

The reforms need to be backed by 75 per cent of British Cycling’s 130,000 members, but King says he thinks it is “doubtful” they will have the necessary support.

If members don’t approve them, British Cycling will fail to secure £26 million in UK Sport funding for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games cycle, as well as £17 million in grassroots funding from Sport England.

King said: "My original view was that the members would vote in favour of the proposals because of the threat of losing funding.

"But I think the feeling is now moving the other way, and from the meetings I've attended, I think it's doubtful.

"People realise money will be stopped, but they're prepared to do that.

“It's right that we modernise, but there's a sense the changes are too severe, have been rushed through, and that members are losing control, with too much authority residing with the board, not the national council."

Jonathan Browning, British Cycling’s chairman, and the organisation’s president Bob Howden have been on the road in recent weeks visiting the regions to drum up support for the reforms.

But King, who represents the south east on the national council, believes that issues such as the UK-sport ordered independent review of the governing body which reported last month have caused members to lose confidence in it, despite sweeping management changes.

> Independent review into culture of British Cycling released alongside 2012 report which foresaw many of the problems

He said: "People have lost confidence in the board and its ability to put us back on the straight and narrow.

"I worry about the future whichever way the vote goes,” he continued.

Referring to when British Cycling was on the verge of bankruptcy in the late 1990s, he said: “We're in a bigger crisis now than 20 years ago.

"I am concerned about the way things are going and if I can play a role in bringing things back in line then I will," he added.

However, a spokesperson for British Cycling told BBC Sport: "These changes to our governance are necessary, timely and in the best interests of our members whether they race, help out at their local club or just love riding their bike.

"It is our belief that by ensuring that our organisation has professional, balanced governance, our sport will benefit – from the grassroots to the podium."

Last week, Table Tennis England lost £9 million in funding for 2017-21 after 74.93 per cent of members voted to back its planned governance reforms, just below the 75 per cent threshold required.

Its chairman, Sandra Deaton, said: "Despite being told of the consequences, the action of a small number of the individuals, some with their own agendas, have meant that the association is now in a suspended state of business.

“Table tennis has become the first sport to fail to deliver on the Government’s requirements for funding,” she added.

“This has put our future at risk, as well as every programme we operate.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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