THE group behind the bid to save Chester’s top-flight basketball club has indicated it could be on the verge of securing its future.
Cheshire Basketball Club, formerly known as the Jets, have until Friday to raise the £50,000 needed to ensure their survival, but athe Save The Jets action group is confident the club has a future.
Donations from fans, who chose to rename the club the Cheshire Phoenix should they achieve their goal, raised about £2,000 at the Northgate Arena on Sunday night, while on the court, the players continued to defy the odds and recorded an impressive 106-72 victory over the Durham Wildcats.
There was more positive news for fans following the game after a sponsorship deal was agreed by BiG Storage director Andrew Donaldson and Terry Hearfield of Aspect Construction, who both agreed to put in £7,500 each to help the cause, taking the current total raised to more than £30,000 in a little over a fortnight.
The group, led by Donaldson and Hearfield, former Jets head coach Mike Burton, and team manager Andy Green, has worked tirelessly to aid the the club’s survival and believe it is close to achieving its goal, but members admit they must not be complacent.
Donaldson said: “We are down to the wire now and every second counts for us this week.
“We are currently in the process of trying to iron out and secure a major deal that would see us reach the magical £50,000 mark and secure our future.
“We continue to remain hopeful but we can’t afford to rest on our laurels and we working flat out to make sure we can preserve this great club.
“The donations from fans at the Durham game was fantastic.
“It shows the spirit people in the city and surrounding area have and that they are willing to fight for this club.
“We are in this to put a winning team on the court for our fans but, most importantly, create a club that belongs to the community and one they can be proud of.”
Donaldson has opened his home to three of the team’s overseas players after last month’s financial meltdown when former owner Haydn Cook removed his financial backing and sold the Cheshire Jets naming rights to a third party.
“I’ve had Chez Marks, Alif Bland and Gabe Haskins all staying with me for the past couple of weeks, which has been a great experience,” said Donaldson.
“When the club went into meltdown, they were pretty much told to get out of their hotel and had nowhere to go. Gabe and Alif had never even left the USA before and here they were, in a foreign country with nowhere to stay.
“They spent Thanksgiving with us and have taken to calling my wife Debbie – who has been cooking for them – ‘Mama D’.
“They appreciate what we and the fans are doing and they are repaying us on the court. They really feel part of something special here.
“I do think I will face a struggle to get them to leave though. They’re loving it too much.”