altFEBRUARY 12 - A LEADING British Volleyball official today claimed pre-Olympics funding cuts have placed the credibility of the sport at risk in the build-up to the London 2012 Games.


Volleyball was one of the main losers last month when the victims of a £50 million cash shortfall were announced.


UK Sport were forced to act after a Government campaign to raise public sector funding for athletes failed to attract any backers.


British Volleyball, the game's governing body in this country, saw its pre-Beijing budget of £4.3 million slashed to £2.2 million for the years up to London 2012, to cover the main sport plus its beach and Paralympic variants.


Paddy Murphy, a member of the British Volleyball Board and the president of the Northern Ireland Volleyball Association, said: "The amount allocated will set extreme challenges for us as we attempt to ensure that all six programmes [men's and women's teams in the three versions]continue to deliver on our plan to participate with credibility in the 2012 Games.


"We are bitterly disappointed that UK Sport has reduced the figure which they indicated would be available to volleyball, without explanation, despite our having indicated to UK Sport that the unique complexity of running six teams across Olympic and Paralympic disciplines means that progress depends heavily on the sport receiving more than the planning figure."


UK Sport defended its decision.


A spokesman said: "The UK Sport board were faced with a £50million shortfall in funding ambitions for 2012 and we had to make some tough decisions.


"We recognise it was a tough call and is hard on those sports who lost out."


Volleyball and the other sports dealt cash cuts have until early next month to decide whether to take all the money offered in one lump or spread it out over the next three-and-a-half years.


Funding will be reassessed in autumn 2010 and some sports could opt to take all the cash now in the hope that their budget will be topped up in potentially better economic circumstances next year.