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Time for a change

SET FOR A CHANGE: British basketball could be one of the hottest tickets in town

BRITISH BASKETBALL could be set for a huge shake-up after a £1.6m push to launch a new NBA-style professional league.

Former Time Warner CEO and Citigroup chairman Dick Parsons, who was once an adviser to Barack Obama, is helping to bankroll Premier League Basketball. And the managing director of his investment vehicle believes it will put the sport in this country “on the map” by making it one of the hottest tickets in town.

Max Jahn of R&R Venture Partners said: “What I like is the boldness of the vision. It’s very ambitious. It won’t be easy to pull off but it’s a powerful concept we believe in. Nobody globally talks about British basketball. But we believe Premier League Basketball can put the sport in the UK on the map.”

PLB is the brainchild of Ron Scott, a former venture capitalist, and aims to tip off in 2019 as a national eight-team summer league. Talks have already been held with Simon Cowell’s Syco as an entertainment partner and audits have been carried out on venues in London, Glasgow, Birmingham, Liverpool, Nottingham and Newcastle.


TOP MAN: Parsons

Scott said: “I think we can raise the visibility of the sport, bring the Great Britain players back and having an option for broadcasters in the summer. After that, everything else falls into line.” PLB’s mission statement promises to deliver: “high-quality, competitive basketball events in major UK venues, broadcast live in prime time” along with “fresh, fast-paced, interactive entertainment experiences."

BT Sport agreed a deal in principle in 2015 to broadcast at least two live matches per week once the league is launched. And the involvement of Parsons, who is a shareholder and adviser to the project, has now allowed PLB to complete it’s seed financing. It will begin the search for full league funding in January.

Jahn said: “Ron Scott with his experience and expertise is the person to see through such a bold vision. “The first investment happened in 2015 and there was another earlier this year. I will not share what we have invested because we don’t disclose the investment amounts that we make but we understand that to get the league fully underway will need some time.

“We feel we will get out money back and more. But we have not put a timeline on it. The plan is to start the formal fundraising for the league at the beginning of next year. I know they are currently lining up investors for that, and we feel the financial return will be significant.

“Nobody is positioned like Ron Scott to pull off this idea. A lot of things need to align nicely. It’s a risky undertaking. But the return will be significant if things fall into place. We are in it for the long term. It is very possible that we will invest again in the future, absolutely. We are waiting for the effort to make the next step.

“The idea is to get more of an entertainment element that you see in the NBA, but so that it is specified for the UK market, where this idea will be more novel. It’s family entertainment and great sport on the one hand, and the music and the idea that you attend an event that has a showy element to it on the other.”

If PLB is successful it plans to expand to a ten-club league in its second year, before adding two more clubs in its third year.

Scott added: “We are pleased to have Mr. Parsons as an investor in our seed stage financing and look forward to working with R&R Venture Partners as we progress our plans to build a successful sports entertainment enterprise in the UK.”

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