It was announced this morning that Leeds Carnegie Basketball are to be included as a franchise in the British Basketball League (BBL) for the 2014/15 season.
In a statement released this morning, Leeds Carnegie Basketball heralded the dawning of a new era for their organisation, which began in 2006, as they will look forward to playing in the top tier of British basketball.
Leeds Carnegie’s entry into the BBL will put them up against the best teams in the UK, including iconic British basketball clubs such as the Newcastle Eagles, Glasgow Rocks as well as current treble winning champions the Leicester Riders. This move will also see Leeds Carnegie make their first ever appearance on TV as part of the BBL’s deal with Eurosport.
Director of Basketball and Head Coach Matt Newby is thrilled with news saying: “To bring a basketball franchise to the city of Leeds which has such an amazing sporting pedigree is a privilege. I feel that it is a testimony to the hard work of the staff at Leeds Metropolitan University and the Leeds Carnegie Basketball Foundation which has assured our ascension through the ranks and the continued development of our community programme.”
Leeds Carnegie will play their BBL games at Leeds Metropolitan University’s Sports Arena which is set to host the biggest nights of basketball that West Yorkshire has ever seen. Coach Newby is keen to use this move as an opportunity for young British talent to play at the highest domestic level saying: “I hope we can continue to develop home grown talent from across the country and give them the opportunity to step in to the professional domain whilst maintaining their academic aspirations within our academic pathway which includes Allerton High School and Leeds Metropolitan University.”
The BBL is in its 27th season and has been looking to aggressively expand their portfolio of clubs. The BBL has a clear strategy of looking to establish basketball franchises in every major UK city. The 2013/14 season saw the launch of the Birmingham Knights and the 2014/15 season will see Edinburgh and Bristol join Leeds as new arrivals in the league.
Coach Newby said: “The BBL is the premier basketball league in the UK and is going from strength to strength. It is a great time to make the move up and it will ultimately help us achieve our goal of creating a complete performance pathway, which we have been building since 2006. It will further enhance our community focus and commitment to social agendas and ultimately we hope inspire a new generation of basketball enthusiasts within the city of Leeds.”
The BBL’s Chief Operating Officer Andy Webb is pleased to see the Leeds deal sealed saying: “We are pleased to welcome Leeds Carnegie to the BBL. Their addition will take our roster to 15 clubs for next season and will give us a second club in Yorkshire. The club have a solid community base from which to grow, and we look forward to working with them to develop the club in the coming seasons.”
Coach Newby has appreciated the assistance that the club has received in its plight to reach the top tier of British basketball saying: “I would personally like to thank the BBL for all their support in the process and those in England Basketball for all their support over the past 8 seasons as we climbed the EBL structure.”
Leeds Carnegie’s BBL schedule will throw up some new rivalries. This will include a White Rose derby against BBL veterans the Sheffield Sharks as well as a classic Yorkshire against Lancashire battle against the Manchester Giants.
Leeds Carnegie will be keen to finish their last season in Division One with silverware and have had a bright start to the new season, having reached the final 8 in both the National Cup and National Trophy.