The British Basketball League (BBL) operates on a system of franchises. Each club owns its own franchise.
There is no promotion and relegation in the BBL, and there is no minimum number of clubs with which the BBL can operate. The BBL’s licence with the British Basketball Federation (BBF) allows for up to 24 franchises, split over two leagues with a system of promotion and relegation between the divisions.
Clubs from the top flight of lower leagues in England, Scotland and Wales cannot join the BBL based on their performances on the court alone. However, these clubs and any other organisations can apply for a franchise in the BBL.
The franchise system exists to provide financial security and encourage investment into clubs by removing the risks that may come with relegation from the BBL, or from other clubs operating in competition within the geographical franchise area.
Potential franchises applying to join the BBL are asked to submit a comprehensive business plan which includes:
• Complete details of the business and how it will function
• Full financial projections including cash flow expectations and potential revenue targets
• Details of the proposed company structure including information on shareholders
• Management structure, including CVs of all key staff
• Information on how the BBL’s performance objectives (covering areas such as quality of venues, community programmes and player development) will be achieved
• Details of any history of running a basketball or professional sporting club
• Full details of the proposed home playing venue
• In principle agreements with the venue and any potential sponsors.
• Outline of PR plan and marketing initiatives to create a viable basketball club
The Joint Franchise Committee – made up of representatives of the BBL and the British Basketball Federation (BBF) – will consider each application against the criteria.
Successful franchisees pay a franchise fee, the level of which is determined by a number of factors including the location and the strength of the application and the valuation of the BBL(*). The average franchise fee in recent years has been £150K, which franchisees typically pay over the first seven years.
(*) Successful franchisees also become shareholders in the BBL itself, which is wholly owned by its member clubs. You can read more on the BBL’s ownership and decision making process here.