Former leading cricket official Sharon Bayton has been appointed as the chairperson of the steering group which hopes to establish a elite women’s league in the UK.

Chair of the Women’s Cricket Association from 1994-1999, Bayton has over 20 years of experience in the sport and leisure sector, according to British Basketball, working with clients including Tesco and Network Rail.

She has now been placed in effective charge of determining whether a new professional league would be financially viable with netball’s model expected to serve as the template.

Sceptics doubt that the venture can get off the ground without the same level of public sector investment seen in countries such as Spain and Turkey, where women’s basketball has achieved a high profile.

Bayton must scope out the idea (BB)

While it is likely the project would collapse if the home nations vote to discontinue British Basketball’s unified structure after the forthcoming Olympics.

However Warwick Cann, the organisation’s Head of Performance, wants the concept to be fully explored after years of decline in the domestic game.

“The need for a professional or semi-professional women’s league involving all the home nations has been identified for some time,” he said.

“British Basketball’s Performance Management Group has been concerned with the level of the top end professional game in the home nations and these concerns have centred on the need to enhance the national team and the development of its contending players to best showcase the game at home and in Europe.

“The establishment of a new elite women’s league is seen as an enhancement for the national women’s team quality and competiveness. A quality league based on European quality is desired to improve the performance pathway for coaches, players and referees.”

Bayton, who will report back to BB’s board, added: “I am delighted to have been appointed by the British Basketball Performance Management Group as Project Chair to investigate the potential for establishing an elite women’s competition.

“Women athletes rightly deserve opportunities to perform their chosen sport at the highest possible level. It will be a challenge and a privilege to work with British Basketball on this exciting project.”

Main pic: Dan Wooller/BB

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