JONES AWAITING GIANT VERDICT

The plans are in. Questions have been asked, and answered. Now Jeff Jones is hoping he’s done enough to bring the British Basketball League back to Manchester.

It’s been a long testing process resurrecting the Giants back from the grave. Finding backers, finding a venue, finding a method of ownership that will prove more sustainable than the last team to call the city home.

All while the American has been pounding the streets, attracting kids into the grassroots programme that he hopes can deliver an instant fan base if – and it’s still an if – the league gives the concept its blessing.

Anything else would be follow, he underlines. The reborn Giants will arrive with a long-term vision not a short-term fix.

Jones: Giants ready

“We’re not going to be a group of people coming in and throwing money at a franchise,” Jones declares. “It’s not going to happen. It’s just a situation of building what I feel I do best which is a development structure at grassroots and mass participation, and building a fan base that way. I’ve spent the last 30 years in and around the area.

“With those contacts, it bodies well but we’re very realistic. What I want to be able to do is that when I walk away from it, whenever that happens, no-one has major control and everyone’s working to the same aims.”

Decision time is fast approaching. It is understood that the BBL’s franchise committee will meet inside the next two weeks to make a final appraisal of four applications on the table, with Manchester joined by Reading Rockets, London Leopards and one other un-named consortium.

Any applicants accepted to join Birmingham in entering the league next season can expect to learn their fate by the end of the current campaign.

While Jones is reticent to reveal the details of his bid, he is confident in what it can offer.

“Personally, as an entity, I think we’re ready. And we’re in a situation where we think we can put a good enough, solid enough, and more importantly, a sustainable case about what we’re going.”

There are still some to-dos to cross off the list. Manchester City Council has hinted at building a basketball centre but confirmation is still outstanding. The BBL’s admission policy could yet be influenced by the uncertainty that surrounds Mersey and Sheffield off the court.

Jones, who would coach the new club, has seen enough of the BBL over the years to understand the vagaries and the politics.

However with the Olympics closing in, and the possible legacy of the Games under scrutiny, he is aware that the sport must seize this moment or risk eternal obscurity.

“I said this when we were awarded the Olympics, and even in 2006, that if we mess this opportunity up as a basketball community, no-one involved should be allowed to touch the sport again,” he states.

“It’s a great opportunity. Obviously we’ve got the USA men and women in July. If someone had have told me five years ago that was going to happen, I’d have laughed.

“What we’ve presented is good for basketball. I hope it is good for basketball nationally. I just wish the whole entity of British basketball would all get on the same page. Because it’s a great sport.”

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