Game over for Leeds Force after four great years

Leeds Force's Tavarion Nix lines up a shot against Cheshire Phoenix.
Leeds Force's Tavarion Nix lines up a shot against Cheshire Phoenix.
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TOP-FLIGHT basketball in West Yorkshire came to an end with British Basketball League outfit Leeds Force calling it a day yesterday.

The club, which has been in the top-flight for four years, has cited “numerous challenges” during the past year which has led to it deciding they are not in a position to maintain a competitive team going forward.

The 2017/18 season proved a particularly difficult one for head coach Danny Nelson’s team, who won just one match out of 33 in the league to finish bottom by six points.

A statement on the club’s website read: “It is with great sadness that we today have to announce the end of the road for Leeds Force.

“It hasn’t been a secret that this past season has not been one anyone involved with the club wanted it to be.

“The club has faced numerous challenges throughout the season that were unforeseen and this has meant that providing the necessary investment to maintain a competitive team on the floor has become unsustainable.

Leeds Force's Eric Curth.

Leeds Force's Eric Curth.

“We have had a great four years and notched up wins against all but one of the other BBL teams (damn those Wolves!). We hope that we have brought entertainment to those who have witnessed some of our huge games and provided some great memories.

“It is with a heavy heart that this move sees the end of professional basketball in West Yorkshire, which is a shame because it is a region that deserves a strong and successful basketball team to support in the BBL.

“However, we would like to thank everyone who we have worked with over the past four years including players, coaches, volunteers, sponsors and most of all the fans.

“Leeds may have been the minnow in the BBL but the fans were truly an inspiration to all the players who wore the jersey.

Danny Nelson.

Danny Nelson.

“Once again thank you to all we have met in this journey and good luck to one and all for the future both on and off the hardwood.”

A BBL spokesman said: “The team that finishes bottom in the BBL always has a franchise review with the league and at that review Leeds informed the league that they were unable to continue next season.”

The club was initially formed in 2006 as Leeds Carnegie under a partnership between Leeds Metropolitan University and the Leeds-North East School Sports Partnership.

After spending eight years rising through the divisions of the English Basketball League the club was officially handed a franchise in the BBL for the 2014/15 season.

Under coach Matt Newby, Force made a respectable start to life in the BBL finishing in 11th place out of 13 teams, winning nine and losing 27 of their matches.

The 2015/16 season proved to be the club’s most successful to date as they qualified for the BBL play-offs in eighth place with a record of 14 wins and 19 defeats. They ultimately lost to Leicester Riders over two legs but the franchise earned lots of praise for the way they had adjusted to life in the country’s premier basketball competition.

Force were never able to emulate their achievements of the 2015/16 season with the team finishing 11th in 2016/17 and bottom of the pile last season with a solitary victory over Manchester Giants to their name.