Sheffield Hatters have withdrawn from the Women’s British Basketball League.

In a huge blow for the WBBL and a painful jolt for the country’s most storied club, financial concerns – which had been heavily trailed – have been cited as the key reason why the Yorkshire outfit are out of the top flight for the first time in four decades.

The door has been left open for Sheffield to rejoin in 2021 with the WBBL now down to eleven teams.

A statement from the club read: “Sadly, despite our best efforts, we have been unable to secure the funding we were aiming for to secure the Hatters’ future in the WBBL.

“Therefore, it is with deep sadness, we have this morning informed the league that we have to withdraw from the league effective immediately.

“We are deeply grateful to everyone who worked tirelessly to secure the club’s future, especially during such a turbulent time.

Whilst we will not be participating in the WBBL for the 2020-21 season, we remain hopeful to re-join the league for the 2021-22 season.

“We would like to thank the league for their continued support, and we wish them and all the remaining teams in the WBBL a successful and exciting season.”

Last week, Hatters coach Vanessa Ellis left for a job in Austria and admitted that the uncertainty factored in her decision.

As yet, the WBBL has not confirmed a start date or fixtures for the forthcoming campaign.

“We are saddened by the withdrawal of Sheffield Hatters but given the current climate, we understand and appreciate the difficulties the club has experienced over the past few months,” said the WBBL, in a statement.

“Our thoughts are with the club’s players, staff, supporters, and dedicated volunteers, all of whom worked endlessly to see the club continue.

“The loss of Sheffield Hatters will be one felt across the basketball community. The oldest and most successful team in women’s basketball, their accomplishments speak for themselves and they should be incredibly proud of the foundation they have built for women’s basketball over the past 60 years.”

“We sincerely hope they’ll be able to re-join the league for the 2021-22 season.

“The WBBL will be progressing with 11 teams for the 2020-21 season, which we hope to have details on in the very near future.”

pic: Ahmedphotos

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