FANS of beleaguered Cheshire Jets face a stark reality. The club has just 22 days to find a massive £50,000 and preserve its status in top-flight basketball.
An urgent appeal has gone out for potential sponsors and local businesses to join supporters in helping one of the country’s most successful basketball outfits survive.
The club is currently being controlled by the British Basketball League while a suitable new owner is sought.
Haydn Cook, the Chester businessman who stepped in to save the Jets from extinction in the summer, last week had the franchise withdrawn after he alerted the BBL that he could no longer finance the club.
Now the club, who 10 years ago won every piece of silverware on offer, is in crisis and appealing to the community for help.
Spearheading these efforts is a steering group comprising BiG Storage boss Andrew Donaldson, Terry Hearfield of Frodsham-based Aspect Construction, Jets founder Mike Burton and team manager Andy Green.
They have agreed with the BBL that if they can raise £50,000 – enough to ensure survival this season – by November 30, they can take custody of the franchise and run it as a not-for-profit Community Interest Company.
They say work would then begin to develop the Jets as a community club, along similar lines to Chester FC.
Donaldson and Hearfield have already donated £7,500 each to kick-start the campaign from their businesses’ corporate and social responsibility budgets.
“We have stepped in to help provide a focus to keep the club running for now, but this is now a community club and that is how it has to go forward,” said Donaldson.
“The BBL has come in and given us some breathing space which we are grateful for and we now need the support of basketball fans, the business community and the people of Cheshire to save this club in 22 days.
“With the support of the fans and the community we hope to run the club on a non-profit basis and work on putting in place all that will be required for the club to be run by the community.
“But we really need people to get behind this. Ten years ago this was the best team in the BBL, they won everything. Now we have to come together to make sure the team has a future as bright as its past.”
Hearfield added: “The four of us have agreed to work together because we don’t want to see this club disappear. We hope to use our experience in business, and Mike and Andy’s experience in basketball, to keep the club alive this season.
“In the short term we are looking at a number of ways we can ensure the club continues to meet its playing obligations and over the course of the season we will be working with supporters and volunteers to work out the best way to secure a sustainable future for this club.”
To learn more about what you can do to save the club visit the campaign website at www.savethejets.co.uk, follow the campaign at @SaveTheJets on Twitter or www.facebook.com/savejetsbasketball on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org