ROYALS AIM TO RULE BBL

London City Royals have promised to challenge for trophies after unveiling their plans to make an immediate impact in the British Basketball League.

MVP revealed earlier this month that the newcomers, who will be based at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre in the south of the capital, had their franchise application approved following several weeks of financial due diligence.

The club will be bankrolled by owner Jon Sawyer and overseen by ex-BBL player and Midnight Madness founder Nhamo Shire.

“We are delighted to be launching the London City Royals, the newest basketball franchise in London at the Crystal Palace Sports Centre,” said Sawyer, a former Disney and Hilton marketing executive, who will act as chair of ownership group, ABC Basketball.

“Crystal Palace has a wonderful history of hosting the best British basketball franchises including the London Towers and the legendary Crystal Palace teams.

“We are proud and honoured to bring professional basketball back to south London and capture the hearts and minds of a new audience through first class entertainment both on and off the court. We have set up the franchise with a view to establishing ourselves as a dominant force within British basketball and with a view to entering into European competitions in due course.”

The Royals, who are expected to name BBL veteran Junior Williams as their head coach, effectively replace Leeds Force who were axed from the top flight last month, ensuring the BBL will remain at 12 teams. They will become the fourth club to play out of Crystal Palace in recent years, following in the wake of Lions and the now-defunct London Towers and Crystal Palace.

It is also the first time the city has had two premier division franchises since the old Leopards team left London for Essex in 1999.

And it has been claimed the move to bring a second club to join the pre-existing Lions will boost hopes of landing sponsors and media.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in the game for over 30 years at every level and been involved in some pretty amazing things during that time,” said Shire, who is Head of Basketball Operations.

“So, I know first-hand about the power of our game to positively impact communities and bring people together through sport.

“Through the successes of the London School of Basketball at getting more people playing and our Community Basketball League in providing young people with accessible competitions, alongside Midnight Madness in highlighting our many talented players over the years, we’ve listened closely to the needs of the whole community.

“We understood the missing piece to our puzzle was to provide an accessible elite level outlet at the top end for players across London to aspire to and new fans to come and be a part of.

“I’m excited to be involved in a solution that is fully-committed to bringing all the elements together in establishing the very best basketball has to offer for fans, players and the London community-at-large and look forward to helping build a team London can be proud of both nationally and internationally in the years ahead.”

An alternative application from Reading Rockets to move up into the top tier is understood to have been rebuffed due to their current existing venue.

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