Basketball: BBL given surprise ultimatum

British Basketball staggered into a crisis this week when its governing body, England Basketball, set a 14-day deadline for the British Basketball League to agree to align its professional clubs with EB's own teams from the first division in time for next season.

BBL clubs would have to sign away their commercial rights to a new company, which would "pursue television, sponsorship, marketing and merchandising opportunities".

BBL representatives, including the chairman Vince Macauley-Razaq, were summoned to a meeting at EB's Sheffield headquarters.

Expecting to discuss next season's preparations for the Commonwealth Games, they were shocked to be presented with the ultimatum and its improbably tight deadline.

Macauley-Razaq said: "BBL has run the professional league in the UK for 18 years and developed those businesses. We are always ready for discussions, but EB has to realise we have existing commercial rights and properties."

Equally improbably, an existing BBL club, the London Towers and their general manager Rick Taylor, are shooting from the same corner as EB, whose chief executive Keith Mair is desperate for basketball to obtain more central funding and be admitted to Sport England's top 20 sports.

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