Sheffield Sharks welcome 777 Partners’ £7 million BBL investment with open arms

Sheffield Sharks have welcomed a multi-million pound investment in the British Basketball League with open arms.

Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 2:50 pm

Miami-based investment firm 777 Partners – who already own British Basketball League (BBL) team London Lions and European football clubs Sevilla and Genoa – has pumped £7 million into the top tier of basketball in the UK, which will be used to help grow the sport at all levels.

In return, they have acquired a 45 per cent stake in the franchise.

The BBL wants to use the cash to introduce four new teams into the league, put additional resource into the Women’s BBL, help improve the Great Britain national teams and tap into the huge grassroots participation numbers that sees basketball as the second most played team sport in the UK.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Sheffield Sharks star Mike Tuck has welcomed new investment into the British Basketball League. Photo: Bruce Rollinson.

“I’m excited about it,” said Sheffield Sharks captain Mike Tuck, now in his thirteenth season with the club.

"I wish this had happened 10 years ago so I could have reaped the rewards. It’s huge for the league.

"There was no big TV deal when I first came here (2009). Some of the clubs were playing in very small, run-down gyms, no one was playing in their own venue in terms of ownership.

"Now we are seeing clubs like Leicester Riders and Newcastle Eagles who are in their own venues and clubs like Sheffield Sharks and Bristol Flyers who have major plans to build their own venues in the next year or two.”

Sheffield chairman Yuri Matischen, who founded the club in 1991, told The Star’s sister paper, The Yorkshire Post, the deal has been two years in the making and added: “We’ve always thought that in order for us to go to the next level, we need investment.”

Tuck has seen first hand the development of basketball in the UK since arriving in Sheffield in 2009.

He feels the rise of social media, as well as popular Netflix documentaries like The Last Dance – based on the Chicago Bulls – has also helped to push the sport out to new audiences.

The Sharks have been flooded with sign-ups for their development teams this year and currently have no free spaces.

"Basketball is in a great place in the UK right now,” Tuck said.

"The BBL, with the investment, will be able to help move everything forward.”