CRUNCH talks have been held in a bid to save top-level basketball in Chester.
The meeting of businessmen and potential investors was held as football ace Michael Owen threw his support behind the campaign to save the Cheshire basketball franchise formerly known as the Cheshire Jets.
Supporters held talks at the Abode Hotel last night to give guests the opportunity to view the investment potential of the Jets as they look to raise £30,000 in two weeks to stave off the threat of extinction.
The ‘Save the Jets’ organised the crucial business in the hope of securing the prominent corporate sponsorship that they need to achieve their goal.
Their cause was helped by ex-Liverpool and England ace, Michael Owen, who expressed his support via the social networking site, Twitter.
Chester-born Owen, who currently plays for Stoke City, retweeted the @SaveTheJets tweet inviting businesses to the event in Chester last night to his 1.6 million followers and also encouraged them to back the campaign and visit the website to pledge their support.
A spokesperson for the ‘Save the Jets’ campaign, Victoria Green, said: “The business event provided a vital opportunity for potential sponsors to see what they would be investing in.
“So far we have raised around £20,000 and have done fantastically well but we still need a massive amount of help to ensure the survival of the club.
“It is great to have the support of people like Michael Owen and hopefully the message may reach someone out there who really wants to become involved and help us achieve our ultimate goal.”
The club, formerly known as the Cheshire Jets, has been in turmoil since last month when former owner Haydn Cook announced he could no longer fund the franchise and sold the name and club assets to a third party.
The British Basketball League (BBL) have stepped in during the interim period to enable the club to carry on with their commitments, but the grace that they have received will come to an end on November 30, by which time the campaign hopes to have raised the £30,000 needed to save the club.
The club are looking for 20 corporate ‘supporters’ and four principle sponsors to help them get up an running as a community led organisation.
The campaign has now recruited a major partner to aid their cause in the form of Chester FC, with the clubs becoming ‘supporting partners’ and exploring avenues for the benefit of each organisation.
Chester FC chief executive, Pat Cluskey, said: “The basketball club is going through similar turmoil that the football went through a couple of years ago and we feel that we are in a position to offer support and advice to them in how to move forward.
“The partnership would be mutually beneficial and would see us make use of the excellent route into schools that the basketball club currently has and their excellent knowledge of setting up and developing community programmes.
“In return, our board members will offer advice and their extensive knowledge in maintaining successful fan ownership.
“It is vital that the basketball club remains strong and it would be a terrible shame to see it disappear.
“I have seen the passion and enthusiasm from the supporters and hard work of volunteers and this is something that fits in with the ethos that we have at Chester FC.
“It is great to be able to help the club and hopefully Blues fans will make a trip to see the Jets and vice-versa.”