Say goodbye to Glasgow Rocks, and hello to Caledonia Gladiators.

Just two weeks before the start of the new British Basketball League season, the franchise is being given a radical makeover following its recent takeover by millionaire businesspeople Steve and Alison Timoney.

It makes official the formation of a Scottish super-club with the Rocks now taking on the same brand identity as the Women’s BBL team that was bought by the couple earlier this summer.

The move came as the Timoneys confirmed plans to build a new arena for the Gladiators – with the blueprint understood to be a 6,000-seater facility in East Kilbride – while a previous scheme to revamp an existing facility in Easterhouse has been quietly dropped.

“Rocks have been working for a number of years to secure a permanent base to play games and develop the sport further,” Steve Timoney said. “Historically, basketball in Scotland has struggled to find these facilities for practice and play and can often be displaced by other sports.

“In addition, from a professional sport perspective, it’s not possible to establish high levels of ticket and merchandise sales where fans have no certainty of dates or venues to support their club. We have no doubt that a pre-requisite to any degree of success in British Basketball would centre on the club owning its own facility.”

“We will not be left trailing in the wake, and we will lead from the front and at pace to develop a successful club in this new era. We will invest in a leading-edge, multi-use arena as the new home for our club. A home that our club will own; a home where the priority will always be club games before anything else and where we will build a game day that will thrill our fans and partners and aspire to rival any NBA experience.

A presentation to stakeholders on Tuesday stressed a rapid switch was required to fit in with a new marketing campaign for the BBL which is to be launched for the new season and stems from the multi-million pound investment into the league by American venture capitalist 777 Partners.

Timoney stressed his ambition to put the Gladiators at the centre of a production line of Scottish basketball talent as well as extending the current outreach work into schools and communities.

“Using our three pillars of Community, Opportunity and High Performance, we will continue to invest in a pathway that stretches not only in Glasgow but to every corner of Scotland,” he vowed. “We look to identify young males and females and provide the facilities and expertise to develop them from the first bounce of a basketball to becoming elite athletes, potentially playing for club and country. This will provide a rich source of sustainable homegrown athletes for our club.”

But the funds available from the tech entrepreneur have already allowed the WBBL team to bring in an experienced squad for its debut season – with their male counterparts likely to get an increased budget in due course.

777 is believed to be keen on a second Scottish franchise within its ambitious expansion plans to raise the status of a league often described as the ‘last great untapped opportunity’ in European basketball.

“There are clear signs that we are entering a new era of tremendous growth of the sport in the UK,” Timoney claimed. “Several projects are already underway, including a new UK-wide marketing campaign and a Digital Transformation Project that will position British basketball as the most technologically advanced sport in the world.”

Inevitably, there will be mixed feelings about the culling of a name that was eponymous with Scottish basketball for over two decades despite an era in which only one major trophy was brought north of Hadrian’s Wall.

The BBL team – coached by Gareth Murray – will continue to play this season at the Emirates Arena with the WBBL outfit primed to host most of their ties at Paisley’s Lagoon Centre. However the BBL Gladiators’ general manager Sean Skelly moved swiftly to underline that the change is an evolution of the existing club, rather than a death and rebirth.

“Although the name of Rocks will always be synonymous with the franchise an exciting new era has come to the club,” he said. “Steve and Alison’s excitement is compelling and their plans ambitious. This is the first step in what will be an incredibly successful time for basketball in Scotland.

“While we are moving away from the Glasgow name, our relationship with the Glasgow community and our support remains paramount to our future plans. We are growing, not changing.

“I want to assure everyone that we are very proud of our history and look forward to adding to previous successes. Rocks were formed in 1998 and have since always been a competitive fixture in the BBL. For this to remain the case the club has to adapt and progress, I strongly believe this is us doing exactly that.”

“I would like to thank Gareth, our sponsors, our community partners, the players and staff who have been so welcoming with the re-brand. We all feel honoured to be the Caledonia Gladiators.”

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