- National Teams
For episode 107 of the Hoopsfix Podcast, we sit down with Lenz Balan, Vice President of 777 Partners, the new investors into the BBL and London Lions.
Following on from the announcement that 777 have invested £7million into the BBL for a 45% stake (though their ownership of the Lions takes it to 50%), we thought it was necessary to get a look into who is behind the scenes at 777, find out their reasons for investing into British basketball and what their plans are for the league.
In this hour and a half podcast we dig deep into how the investment came about, what their learnings have been so far, and the scale of their ambition for British basketball.
05:01 Interview start
05:28 Why did they invest in British basketball?
08:42 What 777’s assessment is of what has held the game back in the UK so far
13:55 How private equity works and how investors will get a return and how long it will take
16:45 What the immediate plan looks like for the next 12 months
19:50 How important the TV piece is
21:00 The scale of ambition of 777 and how much money is really needed
24:10 How 777 have been received in the British basketball community and dealt with politics
27:29 The level of collaboration required and involving other stakeholders in the plan
29:55 How the investment into the London Lions led to the BBL investment
31:29 The percentage stake 777 have in the BBL and how decision making will work now
33:34 The similarities between the Australian NBL and the BBL’s situation and creating a situation for NBA draft prospects to do a rookie year in the UK
38:04 The BBL’s role in developing British talent
40:47 His thoughts on British basketball culture
44:14 The GB national team programme
46:14 Whether a strong national team programme is more important than a strong professional league
47:40 The London Lions mens teams not playing British players in European competition
50:39 Why BBL teams competing in Europe is so important
54:30 Is the Euroleague the aspiration with the London Lions?
55:49 Whether it’s a conflict of interest to own the league and a club in it
57:21 What the key cities are the BBL is targeting for new franchises
59:19 How many franchises the BBL could realistically support
1:00:43 Would the BBL ever consider promotion and relegation
1:02:13 Whether the size of the task ever becomes overwhelming
1:03:52 If the investment was to fail, why would it fail
1:06:00 What the biggest learnings and surprising things are so far
1:08:30 How to work out which opinions to take seriously and which to disregard
1:11:07 The biggest mistakes they’ve made so far
1:14:30 How difficult hiring and finding the right people is
1:17:39 How this BBL investment will impact the WBBL and the women’s game
1:20:01 How the BBL will look in 10-15 years time if everything goes to plan
1:22:23 Facilities and how important the infrastructure around the game is
1:24:15 Whether current BBL owners will want to split their franchise equity stakes with other investors
1:25:44 What message he would have for fans
1:27:22 Wrap up
BBL Cup Finals Arena Image Credit: Adam Bates