Basketball: League enters dispute over England players

THE BASKETBALL League has heated up the war of words in the "club versus country" battle surrounding England's preparation for the European Championship games later this month.

The dispute surfaced when an English Basketball Association press release "regretted" the League's inability to rearrange fixtures to allow England to take a full squad for a tournament in Portugal next weekend, prior to the championship fixtures beginning against Switzerland on Wednesday week.

The EBA's chief executive, Simon Kirkland, said: "It's very disappointing we can't now take a full squad to Portugal and that our coach [Laszlo Nemeth] doesn't have the same co-operation that Kevin Keegan enjoys from Premiership clubs."

Stung by this perceived criticism, the League's chief executive, Mike Smith, replied: "The owners are extremely upset with the criticism being levelled at them as they have made very effort to support the England programme."

Kirkland said: "It is the League that's the problem, not the owners," and insisted "We are not criticising, just making observations."