THEY often say you could cut the tension with a knife, but on Sunday you would have needed a chainsaw.
As Pete Hawkins, a member of the committee which has been trying to save Chester Jets since Mike Burton's retirement in April, announced that the Jets would NOT play in the British Basketball League championship next season, there was a stunned silence in the bar at Chester's Northgate Arena where more than 100 fans had gathered to hear the club's fate.
But in the split-second before the jaws hit the floor and the tears started, Hawkins delivered his killer blow.
'The CHESHIRE Jets will be competing in the BBL championship for 2007-08,' he said, revealing for the first time in public that the Jets would be reclaiming the 'Cheshire' title they used between 1988 and 1993.
As an exercise in tension-building, it was almost perfect.
The relief and joy as the room erupted was overwhelming as Hawkins revealed that Chester businessman Andrew Donaldson, of BiG Storage, had saved the club with a 12-month sponsorship deal.
'We want to compete now,' said new director of basketball Paul Smith, who experienced the highs of the 2002 JetWash season as assistant coach to Robbie Peers. 'The state of the club at the moment means we can compete.
'We are looking at bringing in a coach with experience, particularly of the BBL, as it is our first season, but we do not plan on languishing in the league, we want to be challenging nearer the top end.'
Committee member Alan Laird said the aim of the Jets now was to bring more fans in and make the game environment more entertaining for them.
'If we are to survive we need to do more for our fans,' he said. 'The community schemes are crucial but so is looking after the fans we have.
'We are improving the supporters' club and will be having monthly socials for members with the players.
'We are also looking at ways to add some razzmatazz to the half-an-hour most fans spend on the bleachers before games to entertain them and make the whole evening an event rather than letting them sit and wait for the game itself.'
Long-serving Jets stalwart Burton quit at the end of last season, leaving club officials wondering how they would fill the massive void he left.
As head coach and director, Burton ran the show and his exit led to genuine fears that the club would fold without his considerable expertise.
Laird revealed: 'Mike Burton did a phenomenal job with this club and what we have found is that the amount of work he was doing really needed splitting up between about 15 people.
'Now we have done that we can focus on the whole atmo-sphere of the club and introduce a bit of sparkle for fans to make it a real family day out.'
After 12 weeks of negotiations, appeals, meetings and stress, the re-branded Cheshire Jets look like they have sealed their future - but the next 12 months will be crucial.
If the club's off-court plans work and the Chester public return to see good performances on-court, they may be on the path to success once more.
The Jets are reborn - and they plan to start soaring.