London Lions are under new ownership.

MVP can reveal that the capital club have been purchased by Miami-based investment firm 777 Partners who have promised significant cash to turn the reigning British Basketball League champions into a European force.

Long-time owner Vince Macaulay will retain a minority stake after stewarding the franchise during three decades which saw the Lions spend time in Hemel, Watford and Milton Keynes before finding a home at the Copper Box Arena following the 2012 Olympics.

And he believes that the input of 777 – whose sporting portfolio is thought to include an interest in Spanish La Liga outfit Sevilla as well as the agency controlling the rights for Brazilian football – can maximise the potential of the club – and of the BBL.

“We’ve been looking for investment a long time and we believe we’ve found the right kind of partners,” Macaulay said.

“They’re high-level investors across the world. They have some sporting interests in Spain with a football club in the top league, and they’re quite intrigued by the challenge of taking a British (basketball) team into Europe.

“I’ve pointed out the history of British basketball and why I feel it hasn’t worked – and why I think it can work in the right situation. So they’ve taken control of the club and will be majority owners.

“I will remain as director of basketball and head coach.”

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Unearthing fresh investment is set to be a priority across the BBL as all clubs attempt to overcome the major financial challenges caused by the coronavirus epidemic and the subsequent economic shock.

Bringing one fresh backer on board might entice others, Macaulay believes, with at least one outside funder understood to have looked at the league over the past six months.

But with ambitions to grow next season, rather than contract beneath the reduced salary cap favoured by others, Lions are poised to take up a place in the FIBA-run Champions League – with one eye on moving up to the elevated stages of EuroCup and even EuroLeague.

“Can we be a successful team at the high level in Europe in the next five years? That’s our goal,” he admitted.

“Can we compete? Can we put a proper team around the team? From our first conversations, it was about what was off the floor and putting a football style-back office around the team.”

Money will drive the quest.

And he underlined: “That will mean significant investment coming in.”

777 have been approached for comment.

Listen to our extended interview with Vince Macaulay in the latest edition of the MVP Cast, available to stream below or to download.


Photo: Matchroom/McPhilmeny

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