Newcastle Eagles sees British Basketball League licence cancelled for next season

-Credit: (Image: Newcastle Eagles)
-Credit: (Image: Newcastle Eagles)

The future of basketball’s top club competition in the UK has been thrown into doubt after the British Basketball League’s operating company had its licence terminated by the sport’s governing body.

The British Basketball Federation has stepped in following concerns over the financial position at Basketball League Ltd, whose teams included the Newcastle Eagles. The company has been overseeing the men’s professional league under a 10-year licence granted by the sport’s governing body in 2017 but there have been growing concerns over its financial situation.

American-based investment firm 777 Partners, whose proposed takeover of Everton football club recently fell through, holds a 45% stake in the league along with ownership of the London Lions franchise. The federation is now working with clubs including the Eagles to set up a new league but faces a race against time with fixtures due to start in the autumn.

Read more: tributes to basketball pioneer Keep up to date with all the latest breaking news and top stories from the North East with our free newsletter

In a statement, the Eagles said they would work with the Federation and other professional clubs to set up a new league.

A statement from the British Basketball Federation said: “As licensor for the British Basketball League (BBL), the British Basketball Federation (BBF) has been monitoring the financial position of Basketball League Ltd (BLL), the company with responsibility for operating the men’s professional league.

“The aim has been to allow for the consolidation of recent progress and to support the league’s sustainable growth in years to come. However, information provided to the BBF concerning the finances of Basketball League Ltd, including the fact that BLL has entered into creditor arrangements with two of its largest creditors, indicates that BLL is no longer able to carry out its functions as operator of the British Basketball League. The BBF Board has therefore unanimously agreed to terminate the Licence with immediate effect.

“The BBF will continue to do everything possible to protect the interests of fans, players, staff and clubs and interim measures will immediately be put in place to take on organisation of the 2024/25 season, in co-ordination with stakeholders. Alongside this, the BBF is working to shape longer term arrangements for the effective governance and development of professional league basketball in Britain. This process will be completed as soon as possible, taking account of the BBF’s obligation to conduct robust due diligence with regard to possible investors.

“The BBF regrets the need to take these actions but is confident that standards in the governance and management of professional basketball in Britain will continue to rise, matching the clear progress already being made by GB basketball teams at elite level and the exciting growth of interest and participation in the game that has been witnessed more broadly.”

A statement from the Newcastle Eagles said: “In what has been a very challenging period in recent times, the decision to act by the BBF has been accepted in good faith by the incumbent club members of the British Basketball League, including the Newcastle Eagles. We understand the decision was not taken without serious consideration of what would be best for the future of professional basketball across the UK.

“Furthermore, the BBL Club owners will now begin the task of co-operating with the BBF to ensure there is a top flight men’s professional League operating from September 2024 and to assist British Basketball and its stakeholders in the rebuilding and strengthening of the position for our sport.

“The British Basketball League has made a significant impact in the growth of the game in profile, participation, development pathways, performance and especially in new purpose built arenas and it is our intention to continue these contributions in partnership with the governing body. Further information will be made available in the near future, meanwhile all existing clubs will continue with their summer preparations for the new season.”