SHEFFIELD SHARKS: More than Child’s play

Emotion: Karen Child cheers Sharks on last Friday against Leicester
Emotion: Karen Child cheers Sharks on last Friday against Leicester
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THEY say it’s better to be born lucky than rich.

But when you’re a National Lottery winner the two generally come hand-in-hand.

So it’s a stroke of good fortune for Sheffield Sharks that millionaire Karen Child has decided to invest some of her fortune in the club.

It may not make them immediately rich - the 39-year-old from Clowne has made it clear that she won’t be used as a ‘cash machine’ - but it certainly makes them luckier than they have been over the past two seasons.

Cuts to government spending on health initiatives, which the club successfully ran for many years as part of the community partnerships, coupled with an age old problem of being tenants rather than landlords of their home court has meant coach Atiba Lyons’ playing budget has been reduced by around 25 per cent.

The input of Child both financially and with the enthusiasm of someone who genuinely wants to get involved in the day-to-day affairs of the Sharks has come at a very welcome time.

After winning £8.4m on a £1 lucky dip on February 3 2007 she admits there has been the odd business decision that hasn’t gone her way but she is determined to restore the Sharks to their position as one of the strongest teams in the British Basketball League.

“I was brought to a game last season by a mutually friend of mine and someone in the organisation,” she said. “It was a match that we came back from about 20 points down and won, so it was a good one to see.

“What really impressed me by the Sharks was the amount of community work they did and that is something I’m very keen on continuing.”

Child has the largest shareholding of the club’s five directors - the others being Yuri Matischen and Sarah Backovic, who have been involved in the Sharks since day one, former chairman Steve Shore and current coach Atiba Lyons. There’s a wealth of basketball knowledge on the board and Child is keen to include brother Tony, who she runs The Village Inn with in Clowne, as part of a group that will discuss Sharks business.

Sharks have struggled this season. Sunday’s win at Durham Wildcats was just their third in the Championship and they sit fourth bottom of the 12 team league.

While on-court improvements are at the heart of every sports club, Child is also concentrating on building the Sharks commercial success.

“We want to use a template like FC United of Manchester and be community funded, so we can re-invest back into the club,” Child said.

“We’ve already set up a website that explains how businesses can get involved. And we’re looking at lots of different ideas to help sustain funding. I’m really excited with what we’re doing. I could never have imagined I’d one day be involved with a sports club but with the lottery win I’ve been able to do so many things.”

Child definitely has a zest for life that can only benefit the Sharks. The club has found itself in unfamiliar waters in recent seasons with their usual league title hunting days just a memory.

But with a new part-owner and a blossoming relationship with Sheffield Hallam University, which is allowing them to nurture talented young British players, the Sharks could be about to re-emerge as a major force in the BBL.

Unlike the lottery win that changed Child’s life overnight forever, however, it is likely to take time before all the plans come to fruition.

The balls are beginning to fall right again for Sharks fans.