US alternative investment firm 777 Partners has agreed a £7m (€8.2m/$9.3m) investment deal with the British Basketball League, with a portion of the funds to be set aside for the introduction of new in-arena technologies to improve the fan experience and broadcast product.
The BBL said the funding will help unlock basketball’s “huge untapped potential” across the UK. 777 Partners’ £7m investment will grant the company a 45% stake in the league.
The initial £7m in funding will span the entirety of basketball, from community grassroots through to the elite-level game. The BBL plans on appointing a new chief executive to drive the league forward, while major investment will be made in a digital transformation strategy to tap into the sport’s “digitally native” audience.
Investment will also be set aside for the development of referees and officials, the upskilling of game-day delivery teams, and the quality of play. The league will also further prioritise its player-first approach through a new BBL Supports programme, which will support players across their basketball and wider career aspirations.
The BBL said that a significant area of future expenditure will be dedicated to creating the infrastructure to support clubs with operational, content and marketing initiatives. Additionally, the league is planning to add at least four new “high-quality” franchises within the next five years.
The BBL will also enhance its work in local communities through the BBL Inspires programme, while it has committed to channelling additional resources towards the Women’s Basketball League.
Sir Rodney Walker, chairman of the BBL, said: “To state that we are thrilled to have 777 Partners come onboard – as passionate investors who share our vision – is somewhat of an understatement. We couldn’t be more delighted that, as a result of this significant injection of capital, we are now able to fast track the League’s big ambitions and unlock the huge untapped potential that we know the sport of basketball has in this country.
“Basketball is unique in its ability to reach across cultural, societal and economic divides and in its ability to engage with a young, diverse audience. There is therefore huge potential to use the transformative power of sport for the benefit of our growing audience and to increase the impact we can deliver from the grassroots to the very top of the professional game.”
Joshua Wander, managing partner at 777 Partners, added: “Basketball is undoubtedly a disruptive force to the institutions that dominate UK sport. The current barriers to entry and lack of support at all levels of the game have a disproportionate and inequitable impact on underprivileged and minority communities that stand to benefit from its potential.
“Observing the systemic forces inhibiting the growth of British basketball has deepened our resolve as a stakeholder. We are determined to work closely alongside the clubs and within their respective communities to ensure our investment serves to incubate the sport more broadly. We thank Sir Rodney, the board, and the clubs for the opportunity to do so.”
777 Partners already owns the London Lions BBL team and has a presence in football, having concluded a takeover of Italian Serie A club Genoa in September. The company also has a stake in Spanish LaLiga club Sevilla, while last month it said it was working on developing a “world-class sports and entertainment complex” that could host a Formula 1 grand prix in London.