Raiders chief questions viability of rival league
PLYMOUTH Raiders supremo Bob Widdecombe has shrugged off suggestions that a second pro basketball league might be launched in the UK.
The Marjon-backed basketball team is flying high in the well-established British Basketball League (BBL).
But the British Basketball Association has announced plans to launch the new league in the UK next year.
It would be a director competitor to the BBL.
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The scheme involves former NBA star John Amaechi, who is co-director.
The idea is to play the first BBA competitive games in November next year.
BBA chairman Ken Olisa said: "There's an established and fast-growing basketball fanbase in the UK and, with a mix of star talent and the best in sport entertainment, I'm confident the BBA league matches will become key dates in the sporting calendar."
But Raiders chairman Bob Widecombe admitted he did not believe the new league would get off the ground.
He said: "This idea has been talked about for three or four years and it's not come to anything yet.
"I think it's perhaps one or two people who have put an idea forward to see if there's any interest in it.
"I can't see how it's likely that many teams will want to join it.
"I'd like to hear more about the idea, obviously, because we always want to keep an open mind.
"But I can't see anything happening and we've certainly not been approached to join a new league."
Widdecombe said the BBL, which the Raiders have yet to win, was a popular set-up.
He said: "All the top clubs in the UK have joined the BBL and as I understand it, there is a waiting list of three or four clubs who want to join up as well.
"What we have got to be worried about is the possibility that a new league would dilute the standard of basketball being played in the UK."
Raiders have strong links with the BBL and it would take a massive earthquake to peel them from the league.
They joined the set-up – the premier league of basketball in the UK – from the National League in time for the 2004-05 season.
That season saw the city club finish ninth of 11 teams.
However Raiders, the second-oldest basketball club in the UK, finished an impressive third in the 2007-8 season.
Raiders, who are the oldest team in the UK except for fierce rivals Leicester Riders, also won the BBL Trophy five seasons ago against heavily-favoured Newcastle, just three seasons after entering the league