BETWEEN the preparation of the last issue of "International Cycle Sport" and the preparation of this issue, this country has undergone the greatest administrative change of the century. Counties have been enlarged, whittled, created, destroyed, to such an extent that few of us now live in an administrative area whose boundaries are exactly as they were on March 31st.
From the nine regions of the Sports Counci - also to be geographically reformed - are growing already local sports councils determined to provide better sports facilities than most areas have known in the past. It is to these local organisations, as well as to the Sports Council through its nine regions, that cycling must now turn to seek a fair share of any financial aid available.
The Lea Valley scheme and the plans for the cycling complex in Leeds have proved that cycling need not be starved of financial aid, if approaches are made in the right way to the right people. At national level, the B.C.F. should not need to organise an annual Milk Race Draw to pay for some of its teams competing abroad. At local level, divisional racing teams should not need to scrounge jerseys from a wealthy club.
Some organisers are fortunate in having sponsors who are only too happy to give generous backing in return for the advertising which, they receive. But it is invariably the case that generous sponsors become the target for the parasites among us, who will take everything going and give as little as possible in return.
NOW is the opportunity to remedy several of these ills by asking for what is there to be had. If this means internal reorganisation, we must accept that as the price we have to pay. One B.C.F. division, for example, which made geographic sense at one time, now embraces territory in three new counties. Until that division has its boundaries re-drawn so that it lies entirely within one county, to which authority can it possibly look for financial aid ?
Doubtless the average clubman will wonder what this has to do with him. The answer is that it has everything to do with him. He has the power to have a proposal approved by his club, by his division, by National Council itself, if only he has temerity to put his proposal. We are all accustomed to reading of cycling as a Cinderella sport. How many of us question that this should be so? Certainly cycling will never command the following in this country enjoyed by football, for example, but it is easy to think of sports with far fewer active participants than cycling yet which not only manage, but positively thrive.
Perhaps, during the next few months, as we watch our amateurs depart for the Olympia Tour of Holland or the Peace Race, as we read of our professionals declining World Championship selection, competing to a man on very disadvantageous terms with the Continentals who are better clothed, better fed, better equipped, we should ask ourselves not only why this should be so, but what we are going to do to prevent its recurrence in future years.