Durham Wildcats are to join the British Basketball League ahead of the 2011/12 season.

Following two EBL promotions in the last three seasons, this latest step to join the top flight caps a rapid rise for the club since its formation back in 2005.

The decision, taken by the league’s franchise committee, comes despite concerns voiced over the size of the city as the BBL targets the UK’s largest markets in its planned expansion in the coming years.

However, it will allow the league to remain at 12 teams next season, weeks after Worthing Thunder announced they would drop down to the EBL.

“We are delighted to welcome the Durham Wildcats to the BBL,” said BBL chairman Paul Blake. “Their community ethos aligns perfectly to the BBL’s own strategy, and they have all the key ingredients to build a successful BBL franchise.”

As MVP first revealed, Durham will use their community programmes – and their links with the city’s university, as a lever to build a bigger fan base. The club already has an extensive outreach system as well as fielding men’s and women’s teams at senior and junior level.

“Sport in County Durham is built on successful partnerships and we are no different,” Quentin Sloper of the Wildcats said.

“Durham County Council, Durham University and the CSP have all played significant roles in getting the club this far. Our long term success will, without question, be partially determined by how successful we are in developing our existing partnerships and how we establish and grow new relationships with local and regional partners.

“We are determined to deliver a rounded product, from grass roots to performance level. A product that the County can be proud of and that people feel part of.”


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