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Jets' TV move on hold

DEESIDE Leisure Centre is 'highly unlikely' to stage televised Chester Jets matches this season.

James Hamilton (above) and his Chester Jets team-mates

DEESIDE Leisure Centre is 'highly unlikely' to stage televised Chester Jets matches this season.

That's the verdict of club spokesman Joe Lofthouse, who blames the news on confusion surrounding British basketball's new long-term TV contract with NTL.

'We were very keen to explore the possibility of playing televised games at Deeside and there seemed a real chance of it coming off,' said Lofthouse, a former Jets owner and director.

'But since the TV rights changed hands from Sky Sports to NTL over the summer things have been up in the air. Although the season starts next month, it's unclear whether any matches will be televised live.

'Until we know more, the discussions with Deeside Lesiure Centre can't go any further and it seems likely that we'll continue using the Northgate Arena for all our home games this season.'

The news comes as a major blow to the Queensferry facility, which would have benefited financially from hosting the Jets, who enjoyed their most successful season to date last term.

The Chester-based outfit, who play in the Premier Division of the British Basketball League, have missed out on much-needed revenue from Sky Sports in the past because the Northgate is too small to accommodate TV cameras.

Deeside's old ice rink, which now has a hard floor, is the required size and

Jets officials met with the BBL's Mike Smith and Flintshire County Council, who own the facility, in May to discuss the proposed link-up.

It was clear that work would have to be done on the arena's seating and playing surface, which is not level. But both parties were keen on making the improvements and the league were happy with the proposed move.

However, telecommunications giants NTL have so far failed to find a partner prepared to screen live basketball and BBL clubs remain in the dark.

'The season starts next month and the fixtures are out, but none of us know if the games will be screened live on TV,' added Lofthouse. 'Until we can go back to Deeside Lesiure Centre with dates for our live games, nothing else can be done.

'It's a major disappointment because all parties were very keen on the idea, but now it looks like nothing will happen until next season.'

Flintshire County Council are still keen to do business with the Jets and released the following statement: 'There has been no contact from Chester Jets since our initial meeting in May.

'Despite numerous attempts on our part to make contact, we are still waiting for them to come back to us with details of the improvements that need to be made and we remain happy to consider them.'


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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