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AS the battle lines are drawn and the countless debates rage on ahead of today's independence referendum, the Scottish Government have been accused of failing to grasp what a possible Yes vote could do to minority sports.

While Henry McLeish unveiled a report that examined the possible ramifications of what separation from the rest of the United Kingdom could do, Jim Anderson, interim chairman of Ice Hockey UK, has claimed that Shona Robison, the Scottish Government Minister for Sport, has failed to deliver on a working group that was first mooted in February 2012.

Anderson says he has still to hear from anyone in government about how his sport would fare should the majority vote in favour of breaking up the United Kingdom.

"I don't think people understand how much sport would be affected," says Anderson, who was chairman of Scottish Ice Hockey prior to taking up his current position.

"There was the report by Henry McLeish that outlined how sport in Scotland would be affected, but it was all top-end stuff. It was more about football and rugby, which are established at the world stage. Minor sports, like ice hockey, haven't been mentioned. We were first contacted in February 2012 with talk of a debate or a working group. We replied but never heard anything from there on in."

"When I contacted Ms Robison via my local MSP earlier this year, the response I received back was laugh­able. In the letter, we were told Scotland could still compete in the Commonwealth Games. Everyone knows ice hockey isn't in the Commonwealth Games as it's a winter sport. They haven't grasped the predicament the sport - and I mean all minority sports - is in."

"I fear for the sport if there is a Yes vote. I seriously don't think the whole thing has been thought through."

Anderson has sought advice from the game's governing body, the International Ice Hockey Federation, about the possibility of Scotland being accepted into the federation as a sovereign nation to compete in the World Championships and, while it would be accepted, the issue of funding comes into play significantly.

As a minority sport, ice hockey receives nothing from the UK or Scottish Governments, UK Sport or sportscotland. As a result, Scottish Ice Hockey brings in £60,000 to £80,000 annually from memberships and club affiliations. Should independence occur, IIHF have quoted £300,000 as the minimum that would be required if Scotland was to compete on the world stage.

Anderson says that the possibility of independence raises questions about the direction of the sport in Scotland, where the four top teams - Braehead Clan, Dundee Stars, Edinburgh Capitals and Fife Flyers - compete in the UK-wide Elite Ice Hockey League.

He added: "The information IIHF have provided outlines where Scottish ice hockey would stand in the event of a Yes vote, subject to the rules and by-laws as set out by the federation. The example given to me was in the case of the old Czecho­slovakia and their split but, since then, the rules have changed in so far as Scottish players would not be considered for GB teams."

"At the moment, we've got under-18 players in their first camp with a chance to play in world championships within GB teams. It would be difficult for Scotland, as an independent country, to compete because of the money involved, which is in the region of £300,000, as quoted by IIHF."

"Top Scottish athletes compete for Great Britain. Those athletes train down south or abroad and are funded by the National Lottery and UK Sport, and the facilities are provided by Elite Centres. We don't have Elite Centres in Scotland for these athletes.

"Our sport is very closely entwined with the rest of the UK, perhaps more than others. Even among ourselves, we can't sit, as a board, and make any kind of plan. There's no policy so, until we know what the policy of an independent Scotland would be, if it happens, we can't do anything other than wait for the outcome of the vote."


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