Where should the money go?

That’s been a quiet debate around UK hoops circles ever since MVP first broke news of a potential multi-million pound cash injection into the British Basketball League from American investment firm 777 Partners.

13 months on, and we can reveal that discussions have arrived at the brink of a successful conclusion over what was originally christened ‘Project Rebound’.

The due diligence phase is now at an end on a deal delayed and merely complicated in the fourth quarter, league sources confirmed, due to the summer departure of the Worcester Wolves and Plymouth Raiders but also the wrinkle in parallel of factoring the all-new Plymouth City Patriots around this particular table when the south-west franchise, for all intents and purposes, belongs to and is largely operated by the league itself.

The final numbers and small print of what was pitched as a £7 million buy-in is all but concluded, MVP has learnt, paving the way for Miami-based 777 to take a 45 per cent stake in the league, expanding a portfolio which not only includes London Lions (whose share effectively ups 777’s slice of the league which, thus, will have to remain below a 50 per cent share in total) but also recent €150m acquisition, Italian football club Genoa, a minority stake in Spanish La Liga outfit Sevilla, and streaming service Fanatiz.

But what would the fistful of dollars be thrown at?

Documents seen by MVP suggest the BBL’s first chief executive in two decades would be a start in the reconstruction process.

Digital, streaming, financial and marketing service are priority issues issues in a five-year plan which will be heavily commercially focused. However only a very small slice of the pie – principally repayment of existing loans – is set to be made available to the clubs with the majority centralised for activities that may, eventually, create profits and a return on investment.

Where to splash the cash for the greatest possible impact? We polled a varied group of people in and around the BBL to get their thoughts from the inside.

Left anonymous so they could share freely, they come from three groups: Associates – current or past owners, management or coaches, and referees ; Players – past and present ; and Influencers – media or fans.

We deducted a little of the proposed sum for staffing and other fixed costs that would surely come in at the outset, sticking a pin blindly to float a pot of £5 million to be thrown at improvements or upgrades.

And so, that’s what we asked … where would you spend it?


1) “£500k on match funding for an individual facility, Kickstart 3000-seater arena projects –  built in 6 major centres. £1m across all clubs to facilitate a properly resourced Under-21/22/23 division. £1m on staffing up a centralised media department.”

2) “More profiling of British players. Buying TV/ Sky time, then promoting the League. It would involve a League Commissioner. Some resource for the BBF. A professional- looking product (a combination of German BBL and Netball Superleague).”

3) “Support services for players on the medical side, better access to physio, strength and conditioning. etc. Marketing and promotion. Selling tickets.”

4) “The BBL needs a to have a development pyramid so that junior players can get semi-pro contracts to grow. BBL squads are too small as well. You could have rosters of 15, including five who have the ability to turn professional and can be nurtured to then play in the league.”

5) “Greater acknowledgement of the officials with fair rates of pay. Britain’s got the lowest fees of any significant nation in Europe. We don’t have match commissioners. Yet we expect the same standards without proper investment in training and development.”


6) “I would say a marketing uplift, a reliable streaming service that it could then monetise. And beef up staff. I’m not sure where but feels like they need employees.”

7) “Infrastructure throughout each team – Pathway for each team from Under-12 all the way to the pros and back office staff to run a business the correct way.”

8) “I think branding of the league has to be better. We have a professional league and literally 98% of people in the country don’t have a clue about it.”

9) “I feel like we don’t broadcast the BBL enough. It should be more televised with more publicity just to get more people aware of British basketball. On the national level, we need to let people know about it. It should go towards broadcasting, publishing and advertisements.”


10) “Building out league front office staff. Full operations team, marketing dept, sales dept, etc. Once you have the people, everything else (in theory) should become a lot easier. It’s a force multiplier.”

11) “Decent TV Coverage. Better arena infrastructure. Better brand awareness. Decent in-house magazine available nationwide. a full time media officer at each club.”

12) “To create a real team at the BBL, one brought in to drive communications, marketing and sponsorship. I would also add player, coaches and officials welfare.”

13) “It needs a strong central executive and for 777 to take control of the board so that you don’t have the clubs getting in the way of doing what’s best for the league.”

Good news for 777, in that the areas of weakness identified are largely reflective of the details in their scouting report and future playbook.

Surprisingly, not one call for increased salaries (referees/officials excepted) but for targeted spend that can raise the bar.

Marketing, branding and media/communications, unsurprisingly, are regarded as the weakest links (money required for this so partly cause and effect) but the pathway is also an area deemed in need of strengthening.

One thought which one respondent added, however. “They can’t do it like they seem to be doing with Lions by doing some of the work from the USA.” A fair comment made.

Interesting times lie ahead.

A previous version of this article originally appeared last month in The Post Up – MVP’s regular email newsletter with exclusive news and features – Subscribe today.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • MySpace
  • Print

You must be logged in to post a comment Login