The British Basketball League is set to return to Birmingham in 2012 after awarding a new franchise to a sports marketing company.

Oaks Consultancy, which provides management and advisory services to a number of clients in the private and public sector, will oversee the establishment of the first team in the city since the short-lived Panthers folded three years ago.

It is understood that talks have been ongoing for several months with the BBL to pull together a package which would see the league go back to what was once its strongest market in the era of the former Bullets.

No name or venue has yet been confirmed. However Mark Walker, the managing partner of Oaks Consultancy, revealed that plans are already at an advanced stage – 15 months before their team is due to hit the floor.

“The club will have a strong community ethos and work will be starting immediately in this area through an extensive community programme,” he said.

“We will be announcing the name of the team later in the summer of 2011 with the senior men’s BBL team coming on line in September 2012. We recognise that a significant amount of basketball is already ongoing in the city and are looking forward to working alongside the existing basketball stakeholders.”

It narrows the odds on the league simultaneously having new teams in Birmingham, Manchester and London next year, using the Olympics as a springboard.

Manchester, likely to take the name of the Giants and headed by Jeff Jones, could play out of a 3500-seater arena which is planned near Manchester City’s stadium in the east of the city.

While the BBL is actively seeking to place a club in the Olympic Handball Arena as part of efforts to find a fresh base in the capital.

“We are delighted to have secured a new franchise in Birmingham as this meets one of our key strategic targets for franchise development,” BBL chairman Paul Blake said.

“Birmingham is a basketball city which is already synonymous with some of the biggest games in the BBL calendar, we have every confidence that the new franchise will develop in to a significant player in UK basketball.”

The BBL will expand in the forthcoming season after the addition of Durham Wildcats.


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