The British Basketball League (BBL) are pleased to announce that they have granted a franchise to the Essex Leopards, who will commence BBL competition from the start of 2013/14 season.

The Leopards won the EBL Division One league, play-off and National Cup titles last season, and will continue to compete in Division One during the forthcoming 2012/13 season. The club also have one of the biggest community programmes outside the BBL, having provided coaching and lifestyle information to over 4000 children last season through the BBL Foundation Hoops 4 Health scheme, and other community projects.

The Leopards have been given time by the BBL to further strengthen their commercial capability, and to finalize their venue arrangements.

Leopards Managing Director Gareth Roberts is delighted that the club will step up to the top flight:

“We are really pleased to be able to bring professional basketball back to Essex, When we reformed the club in 2004, this was always our aim and we are very pleased to now be in a position to play again at the top level of British Basketball.”

The Big Cats, Club Chairman Fred Dicker was keen to add that they are still looking to continue to be successful in their final EBL season:

“We’re really excited about the prospect of BBL basketball in Essex, and we hope to enter the competition having successfully defended our three titles.”

BBL Chairman Paul Blake enthused:

“We are delighted to welcome the Essex Leopards to the BBL. Their community ethos matches perfectly with our own model and we are delighted to re-establish a presence in an area which is renowned for basketball. We have also been impressed with the way the Leopards have developed their Club over the last number of years, which they have demonstrated has very strong foundations. With new franchises in Manchester and East London this season just announced, and now Essex Leopards and Birmingham already confirmed for the 2013-14 season, we are extremely excited by the growth and development of the League”.