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Club Statement On Omission For Promotion

There has been a lot of interest in the club’s omission from promotion to Division Two across the country and even further afield. It is comforting that we are not alone in our frustration at the decision to not promote Teesside Lions.

I am well aware of multiple gripes that a lot of clubs and individuals have with Basketball England. I don’t and have never wanted to involve myself in this. My simple philosophy is ‘we have to be better.’ At this moment however, it is very difficult.

It is therefore deeply frustrating that I am forced into a position to release a statement to explain to all interested parties what the situation is and what can be done. We owe an obligation to our players, staff, fans, sponsors and all the people who have been following our progress worldwide to seek clarification; submit an appeal or pursue further action.

Firstly, I appreciate that Basketball England is operated by staff who have a passion for developing the game and work tirelessly at this.

Secondly, I don’t expect any preferential treatment and any decisions should always be factored on merit.

Thirdly, I don’t want this to be an attack on Basketball England, nor do I want it to be a deluge of moans, gripes and unproductive complaints.

I will aim to stay direct with the facts, highlight issues, and most importantly provide potential solutions.

The main problem with the structure of Division Three is 53 teams forming seven leagues across the country and only four spots being available for promotion to Division Two. This is clearly not workable and there is no rule or regulation listed that will address the issue should a situation arise where more than four eligible teams apply for promotion.

Teesside Lions won Division Three North and were eligible therefore for promotion. We applied, completed all criteria, paid the respective fees and awaited for what we hoped would be a successful application.

Following the outcome that we were not successful, I have since spoken with staff at Basketball England and was informed that the decision was made on win percentage across all area divisions. This was said to be the fairest outcome.

The problem with this, is it is not stipulated in the rules & regulations.

Furthermore, the North division was arguably one of the toughest in the country and with teams dropping out we had to play each other three teams so are already at a disadvantage in terms of potential win percentage. This therefore is not a fair outcome when the variables of each area league are so different.

Win percentage as a deciding factor suggests that the best overall teams should be promoted. If that is the case we beat three of the four teams above us in win percentage including the number one seed and unbeaten St Helens in the semi-final of the playoffs. We then won the Playoff Final in front of nearly 400 travelling Teesside fans which was one of the biggest team followings of any of the finals.

If, as suggested the best team should be promoted, it is extremely difficult to understand why Teesside Lions were omitted.

The explanation given to us was ‘playoff results and achievements are not a factor in promotion’ and this is stated in the rules and regulations which is fine, but surely it makes more sense to use this as a factor for promotion. Given the fact an unwritten rule of win percentage was used makes no sense.

It also questions the point of the playoffs. A quick adjustment of the rules to give more value and meaning to the playoffs should be considered.

Overall there is a confused system for the Division Three and Division Two League structures.

DIVISION TWO MEN (current situation)

North

Bristol Academy Flyers
Bristol Hurricanes
Bristol Basketball United (BBU)
Charnwood Riders
COB Rockets
Doncaster Eagles
Encon Derbyshire Arrows
Leicester Warriors
Myerscough Basketball Academy
Nottingham Trent Hoods
St Helens Saints
Worcester Wolves

South

London Baltic Stars Medelynas
Brighton Bears
East London Allstars
Greenwich Titans
Ipswich Basketball
London Elite
London Greenhouse pioneers
Northamptonshire Titans
Oaklands Wolves
Oxford Hoops
Richmond Knights
Team Solent Kestrels

The ‘North’ Division boasts three teams from the North of England in Myerscough, Doncaster and St Helens. It has six teams from the Midlands and three Bristol teams from the South.

This structure actually discriminates the North, especially with three spots taken by Southern teams. Geographical considerations are irrelevant when suggesting it’s better for one team at the expense of another. Why is it fair for Doncaster and Myerscough to have to travel the furthest and accrue the highest expenses?

Why couldn’t the league have been adjusted with common sense?

DIVISION TWO MEN (proposed adjustment)

North

Charnwood Riders
COB Rockets
Doncaster Eagles
Encon Derbyshire Arrows
Leicester Warriors
Myerscough Basketball Academy
Nottingham Trent Hoods
St Helens Saints
Worcester Wolves
Oxford Hoops
Northamptonshire Titans
Teesside Lions
Potential Addition

South

London Baltic Stars Medelynas
Brighton Bears
East London Allstars
Greenwich Titans
Ipswich Basketball
London Elite
London Greenhouse pioneers
Oaklands Wolves
Richmond Knights
Team Solent Kestrels
Bristol Academy Flyers
Bristol Hurricanes
Bristol Basketball United (BBU)

Up to 14 teams in one league is completely fine and this is also the current situation in Division One.

If there was such strong demand for promotion to Division Two then I would suggest the following structure is much better and would allow a simple ‘fair’ method of promotion and relegation.

If as stated, this was not possible, why do we such a setup in the women’s league? The standard of some of the teams in Division Three was incredibly high. There is a wealth of players and teams wanting to compete and this should be welcomed as it shows basketball in the UK is flourishing. Promoting extra teams that were eligible in a re-structure will not damage the integrity of the talent pool or leagues below; if anything, it will allow a more balanced structure and room for more players and even teams to join, which is the way it should be.

Potential For Recourse

We have been informed that the structure will not change. We have also been informed that the decision will not be overturned, and this raises the question regarding the point of appeal. What is the point of paying £250 to appeal when the decision is highly unlikely to be changed?

In summary, I feel very disheartened and disappointed in a conclusion that raises the following considerations:

+ What is the point in paying to compete in a league where criteria for promotion is met but an unwritten rule is used to revoke that achievement?

+ Teesside Lions won league & playoff final

+ Teesside Lions beat 3 of 4 teams above them in the ‘higher win percentage’

+ Teesside Lions played in arguably strongest league

+ Teesside Lions had to play teams three times due to initial teams dropping out

+ The North West and North Divisions should have remained combined as was the previous season

At the club we are working extremely hard, and invest significant finance, time and energy into developing basketball in the area, and our reward is this decision, despite:

+ Teesside Lions being a self-financing entity with a stable structure and a strong brand

+ Teesside Lions have a 1,200 capacity venue and are attracting up to 700 fans to games

+ Teesside Lions took nearly 400 fans to the Playoff Final creating an incredible atmosphere

+ Teesside Lions have more than 400 children playing basketball on a weekly basis and operate a CVL with 12 teams (100+ players) at primary and 6 teams (70+ players) at secondary level and this is all players from within the club.

+ Teesside Lions dedicate a lot of attention to a strong and developing junior national league programme

We follow the rules and act within the best spirit of the game. We respect procedure and congratulate the teams who were successful in their promotion and would never seek to gain entry at their expense, but when the governing body has chosen to deliver outcomes based on an unwritten ruling when so many other options were available (and listed above) that would have made more sense it is a difficult pill to swallow.

Our options are now resigned to awaiting the potential of one team withdrawing from Division Two which is extremely unlikely, and having to compete in Division Three North yet again, which brings about more problems due to the fragility of structure:

Division Three North includes a Nottingham University team who have already stated they are likely to withdraw. It also includes two other teams that may withdraw, which could leave us yet again with a division of just six teams and having to play each other three times, meaning only 15 games per season and just 7 or 8 home games for our large fan base to enjoy.

James Thomson
Chairman & Owner
Teesside Lions

Teesside Lions League Champions & Playoff Winners - Not Promoted 2022 https://youtu.be/_bfB_ydzhAI

Teesside Owner James Thomson
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