THE fight to save the team formerly known as the Cheshire Jets will go ‘down to the wire’ this week.
Supporters of the crisis-hit Cheshire Basketball Club are aiming to hit a fundraising target of £50,000 by this Friday.
If they reach their goal, they will ask the British Basketball League (BBL) to transfer ownership of the Cheshire franchise to them so they can run the club as a not-for-profit community organisation, similar to Chester FC.
If they fail in their quest, the franchise would remain in the hands of the BBL and the long-term future of the club would be in doubt.
A four-man action group set up to help save the club includes two Ellesmere Port residents – legendary former Jets coach Mike Burton and current team manager Andy Green. It also includes local businessmen Andrew Donaldson and Terry Hearfield.
Donaldson said: “I’m pretty confident we are going to get there, but there is still work to do if we are going to get over the line. It’s going to go down to the wire.”
So far, more than half of the required £50,000 total has been raised, with the money coming from fans’ donations and sponsors.
The club has been in crisis since last month when previous owner Haydn Cook had the franchise withdrawn from him by the BBL when it became apparent that he did not have the financial resources to continue running the Jets.
The BBL reclaimed ownership of the franchise and has continued to run the team on a temporary basis, giving the fans chance to rally round and try to generate funds.
Cook, meanwhile, has sold the right to the Cheshire Jets’ name – including copyright for the club badge and kit – to a sports agency called Harvard Global, meaning the existing team has had to find a new name.
Fans held a vote and the most popular choice was ‘Cheshire Phoenix’, which will become the new club name should the action group successfully adopt the franchise.
The Jets were founded in Ellesmere Port in 1984 and built up a loyal following in the town before relocating to Chester in 1993, where they have played ever since.
Cheshire lost 95-69 at Newcastle Eagles last Friday but bounced back on Sunday to defeat Durham Wildcats 106-72. They travel to Mersey Tigers this Friday (7.30pm) before hosting the Eagles on Sunday (5.30pm).
For further information about the club’s fight for survival visit www.savethejets.co.uk.