The British Basketball League have approved the relocation of the Lions franchise to London, where they will take up residency at Crystal Palace next season, with Vince Macaulay replacing Mike New as coach.

And the re-named London Lions are set to move into the Olympic Park in 2013 as one of the anchor tenants at the 6000-capacity Copper Box which has been used for handball in the 2012 Games.

The move comes after the club was left homeless in its long-standing based in Milton Keynes despite extended talks with the local council.

But the Stratford switch is a surprise after BBL chiefs previously expressed their intent to find a start-up franchise for the venue that could become the league’s flagship.

Macaulay will partner with both GLL (Greenwich Leisure Ltd) and Reach & Teach Sports Network (R&T), with both partners playing an integral part in the development of a community orientated franchise.

“We can’t wait to get started,” said Macaulay. “With the partnership of GLL and R&T, combined with an incredible venue, I feel we have all the building blocks in place for a hugely successful community basketball club.”

New will remain at the helm of a college-based initiative in Milton Keynes while another former Lions coach, Nigel Lloyd. Is understood to be in line to become the assistant coach of the new London club.

But the switch to the capital has come under fire in the team’s now-former home.

BBL chairman Paul Blake said: “MK Lions had a long successful history in the town of Milton Keynes. It is symptomatic of the issues we have with indoor sports facilities in the UK. The fact is there is no facility in the club’s current franchise area with the pre-requisite number of seats to run a programme. This is not an issue for the sport of basketball and other indoor sports anywhere else in Europe.”

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