One of the operators of the proposed new British basketball league has claimed it could transform the sport.

Speaking exclusively to MVP, Ameesh Manek – one of the directors of BBall UK – has claimed the £36 million on the table from a New York-based private equity firm can be used to set up a new entity that can deliver massively-increased revenues from the sport while also delivering funding to the grassroots and elite game.

“It brings in proven capital through a private enterprise using the Major League Soccer model, putting significant money into each individual franchise building on the work that’s been done for the past 10 years or so,” Manek, a recently-resigned director of Basketball England said. “That generates new income streams that create further direct investment into the sport.

“We want British players coming back to the UK with market salaries, adding staff. While investing money into broadcasting and digital, and the live event experience. We’d partner with the National Governing Bodies to invest into grassroots and the GB programme because it’s critical to sustain that kind of environment for basketball.”

Manek: archirect

The numbers, critics are arguing, don’t stack up, with a projection mooted that would see the new league worth £267m by year six of its operations, a figure which would require a vast increase on the current total revenues accumulated by the BBL and Great Britain teams.

The MLS model involves the league owning teams and centrally controlling player contracts, with investor-operators running the clubs and sharing in the overall revenues.

Putting everything in one pot, and running the enterprise with a rigid commercial focus, would create a bigger market for basketball, Manek argues. And in turn, deliver the returns for the as yet un-named investor.

“They’d have a majority shareholding in the franchises and then be able to make a return because the assets grow in value,” he said. “This is not about trying to create large levels of cash flow immediately. The business wouldn’t be profitable until four years in. It would grow at a reasonable rate. It’s not possible to create hundreds of millions of profit every year. It’s about investing in the whole sport in return for a shareholding, which can make the franchises more valuable.

“We’ve had it stress tested by a couple of organisations. One is a financial organisation in London, with expertise in this. The other is Chime, who are one of the biggest sports marketing companies in the world who have worked with MLS, Formula 1 and others. They’ve really put their best people on it to examine it and at the end, they were so excited, thy wanted to put some investment into it.”

The BBL has yet to sit down with the BBall UK management team. The door is open, it has been stated, with Manek insisting all 13 existing franchises would be retained if they wished to join up. And he has offered to meet one of the conditions laid down by the existing league: direct contract with the proposed backers.

“We’ve offered them the opportunity to examine the financials, the business plan and have contact with the investor,” he said.

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