Basketball: Forgers press claim

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SHEFFIELD FORGERS, currently second in the Third Division of the Carlsberg League, are pushing for a place in the top flight next season by leap-frogging over the clubs in the Second Division, writes Duncan Hooper.

The Forgers' claim is not based on their power on court, but rather where their court is - the 12,000-seat Sheffield Arena. Sheffield may also entice back to England the American Rick Taylor, who was general manager of Manchester United Basketball Club.

Sheffield's bid is being sympathetically received by the Basketball League Limited, who administrate the First Division under an agreement with the the English Basket Ball Association.

The BLL administrator, Mike Smith, said: 'We are committed to involving large arenas in the First Division, because basketball's future as a spectator sport has to be arena-led.

Two years ago a proposal to allow then non-League Sheffield directly into the First Division was opposed by sections of the EBBA and by some clubs. Smith accepts that if the latest proposal is pushed forward, some opposition is again likely, but says no Second Division clubs need miss out on promotion.

He said: 'If Sheffield and Division Two clubs satisfy the criteria for promotion, and if all the existing Division One clubs are good enough to stay up, we could pursue the option of expanding the division. We want as many stable Division One clubs as possible.'

England have been drawn against Slovakia, Bosnia and Ukraine in the first round of the European championship qualifying tournament to be played in Wroclaw, Poland, from 30 May until 6 June.