Thunder issue SOS

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WORTHING Thunder Basketball Club have issued an SOS to the local community to help them see out the current British Basketball League season.

Thunder announced last night (Wednesday) at their Fans Forum that a sum in the region of £10,000 is needed for the club to complete the campaign.

The club operate on a shoe-string budget and rely on volunteers to keep the club running on a day-to-day basis but the current economic climate has dented the club’s income. As well as losing a number of key government grants and the difficulty in securing a headline sponsor, Thunder’s crowds have dwindled this season, which has had a dramatic effect on their budget.

Club operations manager and assistant coach Alan Sweetman-Hicks is hopeful that the situation can be resolved, and said: “We knew coming into this season that financially things were going to be tough, which is why the promise of investment from the USA was so attractive to the club.

“Once that failed to materialise, we needed to try to put together a squad to be competitive in this league and, while we have been able to do that in some matches, in others we have clearly been unable to compete with our higher-budget opposition.

“The players have worked as hard as they can and have been putting in a fantastic effort all season, despite being short on numbers. Unfortunately, results this season have not helped us to attract greater numbers to our matches.

“We now need to secure further funding to see the season through.”

He added: “The town of Worthing has had a basketball team playing at the highest level of the sport for more than 25 years and the club has always given time and commitment to the community in terms of coaching, supplying tickets to youth and other groups, as well as running a successful National League junior programme for 11-18 year olds and I am hopeful that the local community could now show their support for the town’s only professional team, either with direct financial input or even in a small way by encouraging people to come along for what is a great night’s entertainment.

“It would be great as a starting point if, for the home game against the Essex Pirates on Saturday, February 19 (7.30pm), we could have our biggest attendance of the season and show that the town of Worthing supports its basketball team.”

Thunder have reduced all tickets to £5 for the Essex clash to attract a large crowd.

Thunder chairman Frank Gainsbury said: “We are not the first club this season to find the going tough in such a difficult time.

“We have sought to keep our costs to a minimum throughout the season and, although we are immensely grateful to the volunteers, supporters and sponsors we have, we simply cannot meet the anticipated expenditure we are likely to incur between now and the end of the season without some further investment.

“Our close neighbours Guildford Heat summed up the dilemma facing many clubs this season (the club rasied £25,000 in 25 days to keep going, before a new owner took charge) and we must ensure that we now urgently seek some additional funding to see us through this difficult period.

“The club would welcome any discussions with interested parties who may wish to become involved in the club and who may wish to consider investing in Thunder, but we must explore all avenues we can to enable us to get through the remaining two months of the season.

“If any potential investors or sponsors wish to become involved with the club, please contact me via the club office on 01903 261261.”