- National Teams
Basketball in the UK has a potential £36-40million initial investment on the table from venture capitalists to help grow the sport and make it a commercially viable product, Hoopsfix can reveal.
The investment, which is led by an American fund who think the UK is one of the last major emerging basketball markets in the world, begins with owning the professional league, and is based on a whole sport plan to develop basketball from top to bottom across the UK, according to multiple sources close to the situation.
Mark Woods was the first to break the initial story on MVP247.com.
The company believes they can see a return on their investment within 5-7 years with the £36-40million being an initial seed round.
Basketball England recently announced that they are appointing an independent license review panel to assess the professional league’s operating license, with it potentially going to tender.
In an official statement on their website on Monday, Basketball England said:
“It is prudent to review whether there are opportunities to take the sport to a higher level. After approaches by financially strong entities whose investment proposition would benefit the elite teams, the professional league, the women’s game and the whole of our grass roots basketball market it is imperative these are explored.”
However, should the American investors’ plan for the pro league be recommended by the independent license review committee to Basketball England, it is understood the investment comes with added value conditions attached; namely, it would need to be funnelled through a UK based entity that can take investment (something that Basketball England cannot as a company limited by guarantee, because they have no shares to distribute) – which would include current Basketball England CEO Huw Morgan, along with three former BE Independent Directors, Ameesh Manek, Andrew Ryan and Rick Boomgaardt, who recently stepped down due to conflicts of interest, on its staff.
Morgan, who has been in the post just over a year, and the three former independent directors, have been excluded from all board meetings since expressing their interest in being involved with the project, and have not been privy to any discussions regarding the pro-league operating license.
The private entity that Morgan and the three former directors are involved with is a London registered company, now called Bball UK – Naismith Ltd, which was formerly Morgan’s company used for activities non-related to basketball.
The investment company, who’s funds have been verified by Basketball England, has been asked to put together a credible plan for the sport which will be reviewed by the independent committee that includes Jeff Jones, Mark Clark (as first reported by Ian Parker) and three independents who are expected to be named today or tomorrow.
The professional league’s operating license will be awarded on the basis of what is best for basketball as a whole in the country – which could still end up being the BBL, should they put together a more robust plan than the private investment company.
The investment would also include finances for national team programmes from top to bottom, the women’s game, facilities, as well as grassroots development, while a number of other separate companies, including major global brands and television broadcasters, have expressed an interest should the investment happen.
Basketball England Independent Chairman Jan Hagen, when reached via telephone on Monday maintained the view that “whatever happens, it will press that whomever gets the license awarded will be expected to work with the current franchises to protect current basketball interests.”
Sport England, FIBA and the British Basketball Federation have been informed of the investment opportunity and are keeping a watchful eye over proceedings; it is the reason Sport England have delayed their final funding decision on Basketball England until March, by which time the picture will be a lot clearer.
The Euroleague, which has long desired a team in London, have also been included in conversations and are said to have supported a spot for a London team should the money come to fruition – however, one high ranking official claims he has no knowledge of it.
The independent license review panel is expected to assess the opportunities over the coming weeks with advice and final decision being made by April.
The British Basketball League was unavailable for comment.