The British Basketball League could get a NBA-style Commissioner with the power to expel under-performing clubs.

The switch looks to be on the cards as part of a radical new strategy for the sport – entitled ‘Transforming Basketball in Britain Together’ – unveiled on Tuesday, tabled by the freshly-formed British Basketball Federation.

Bold plans have been drawn up to transform the game with a 12-year target set to raise the standard of international teams, increase participation numbers and profile, and bring fresh playing and coaching talent through.

However an overhaul of the BBL will inevitably be at the centre of the plans with a warning that it will no longer be able to establish and police its own rules when a new operating licence for the league is introduced next year.

“The licence we will develop over time will embed the main principles of what we’re trying to achieve – and over time, if clubs, don’t evolve to deliver on these, they’ll be outside of the senior league,” BBF chair Nick Humby confirmed.

“The governance processes need to be cleaned up and strengthened. It needs to be led by a body that’s more independent of the clubs. The league licence terms need to set out the standard the clubs need to aspire to. It should set a time frame for each club to grow from where it is now to where it needs to be.

“The WBBL is in a different place. The women’s league has a lot of potential and that will take time. But we have to make the men’s league a place where top British players want to be rather than being their last resort. The arenas will be better-equipped and better-filled and there are some scheduled to come on stream in places like Sheffield and Cardiff. But we want clubs to be engaged in the community.”

The BBF will, in October, take over membership of world governing body FIBA at the expense of individual spots for Scotland, England and Wales. And although Basketball Scotland will retain much of its working independence, the tighter links between the three home nations will provide benefits for all, Humby believes.

“The idea of awareness and profile is going to be hugely transformational but it’s also where people will get nervous about what they need to give up,” the former Manchester United director said. “But there is a massive economy of scale in pooling rights, pooling resources and recognising the value of the rights that come out of that in bringing in money.

“If the home nations are selling sponsorship against each other, we’re under-selling the sport. We have to join together. It’s a big task. Scotland have been the biggest supporter of that and hopefully it will mean income coming back the other way.”

In particular, the strategy promises, the sport can be grown by targeting the inactive (especially in under 25 and over 50 age groups), in developing the women’s game, by increasing the capabilities and enjoyment of children and young people in sport, in supporting the many volunteers who make sport happen and developing a core of regular and talented players. There is also a vision to raise basketball’s profile with a fresh culture at the very top, both aspects which will be key in bringing in the income from both commercial sector and public purse needed to make the dreams a reality.

With specific details in short supply, there was some initial criticism of the plans from former NBA players Steve Bucknall and John Amaechi, who Tweeted his scepticism.

However the lack of detail will offer flexibility for the new regime to mould their proposition.

And, warned Humby, this is the time to unify basketball to avoid the mistakes of the past.

“The culture issue is critical,” he said. “I want to have culture of collobaration and openness and bringing people along with us. But here comes a point over the next six months that if you don’t want to come along, we need to leave you behind. The big test is how many people are willing to put aside their own vested interested and work towards the bigger picture.

“Generally speaking, they get that. Which is why I think we’ll have widespread support because there will be benefits. When you get down to the detail, it’s inevitable tensions will surface. But the challenge is to keep people with us. The BBL, as a league, recognises its shortcomings. But we also have to recognise the positives.”

– It has been confirmed Great Britain will play all of September’s EuroBasket qualifiers at London’s Copper Box Arena.

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