SCOTLAND’S Commonwealth Games stars have “nothing to fear” from independence because they will continue to receive elite sports funding, MSPs have been told.
But the SNP Government has warned it will be seeking about £30 million in sports funding resources from the UK to ensure Scotland’s athletes can still compete at the top.
Opposition parties have warned that elite stars like Eilidh Child and Michael Jamieson could lose out after a Yes vote.
Cabinet Secretary Shona Robison set out the lasting legacy of the Glasgow games as she faced MSPs at Holyrood yesterday.
Scottish athletes identified to compete for Team GB are currently supported through the UK Sport’s world class performance programme.
“Following a Yes vote in the referendum, we will enter negotiations with the UK Government on many issues including the transfer of resources,” Ms Robison said.
“It’s only appropriate that as a function currently performed by UK Sport would transfer to Scotland, that we seek an appropriate transfer of resource and assets of that organisation.”
UK Sport currently has £350 million in resources which it is investing in elite athletes for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
“We would be entitled to our share of that,” Ms Robison said. This would be about 10% in Scotland’s case.
She added: “We would use our share of UK resource funding to supplement the resource to elite athletes.
“Elite athletes have nothing to fear. We would support them in the way that will enable them to perform on the world stage in the excellent way that they do at the moment.”
Labour’s Jenny Marra suggested that Scotland’s top athletes would lose out because the UK does not fund athletes in foreign countries.
But Ms Marra said: “That’s reassuring to know that the Cabinet secretary feels there will be enough money in an independent Scotland to maintain elite athletes funding at the level it currently is.
“I don’t think there’s a lot of people of athletes in the country that are going to agree with that.
“UK Sport funding criteria is that athletes who are not British nationals are not eligible for funding and the National Lottery will not fund elite sport outside the UK.”
Ms Robison added that Scotland already has a “world class sporting system” through the Institute of Sport which has seen £50 million investment in elite performance.
The 53 medal haul at the Glasgow Games will be a “tough target to exceed” in Australia.
But she added: “I’m sure that with the continues support of our elite athletes which of course will continue post-independence, that our athletes will continue to excel on the world stage.”
Recent reports have suggested that Scotland would not be able to compete at the 2018 Games if the country becomes independent.
But Ms Robison said: “Scotland is already a member of the Commonwealth through the UK so already meets the essential requirements,” he said.
“Following a vote for independence the Scottish government will initiate steps to ensure Scotland’s distinct membership as swiftly as possible.
“Scotland is one of only six countries that have competed in every Commonwealth Games and I look forward to seeing Scotland compete at the Gold Coast in 2018 and every future Games.”