North by Northwest: welcome Bristol Flyers!
Graphic: Mārtiņš Zaļūksnis
The Bristol Flyers will join the European North Basketball league. It`s the first club from the United Kingdom to do so.
A solid home market, a growing club scene and proximity to major European markets make the UK an attractive European basketball destination.
Location also plays a part – the Baltic Sea and the North Sea region has been sometimes called as the Northern Mediterranean – an area with strong maritime and trade traditions.
Basketball is a global game and the ENBL is happy to extend its presence across the whole region.
In 2006, the British Basketball federation was formed, and Great Britain teams replaced England in the U20 and senior age groups in FIBA competitions.
The move followed after London won the rights to host the 2012 Olympic games.
The British Basketball league became more ambitious in the following years – the 2015 playoffs final took place at the O2 Arena and attracted a record crowd of 14 700.
The Worcester Wolves, the Newcastle Eagles and the Leicester Riders moved to the new venues with 2000-3000 capacity.
The Cheshire Phoenix, the Surrey Scorchers and the Caledonia Gladiators improved their home arenas.
The Plymouth Raiders, the Sheffield Sharks, the Manchester Giants and the Bristol Flyers have all announced plans for their own arenas.
The Leicester Riders debuted in the Basketball Champions league qualifiers in September 2018 – it marked the first British participation in European competitions in 11 years.
The London Lions made their European debut in September 2020 – also in the Basketball Champions league qualifiers.
The Lions returned in the next autumn, while the Leicester Riders represented the British colours in September 2022.
They haven`t made it to the Group stage yet and continued their European campaigns at the FIBA Europe Cup (the Lions withdrew in 2020-2021 and the Riders did not continued their adventure in 2022-2023).
Finally, the Lions made it to the Second round or Last 16 of the 2021-2022 campaign, posting a 6-6 record.
The London Lions women`s team – after joining forces with Barking Abbey and led by head coach Mark Clark – outperformed men and made it to the EuroCup Women playoffs in 2021 and 2022.
NBA played regular season games at the O2 arena from 2011 until 2019 – in front of 18 689 or 19 078 fans.
The Bristol Flyers were established in 2005.
The club secured promotion to Basketball England’s NBL Division One in 2007, becoming National Cup Champions in 2010 and being crowned as Division One Champions in 2011.
In 2014, the club secured financial backing from Bristol Sport Ltd to enter the top-flight British Basketball League.
The Bristol Sport Ltd is owned by businessman Stephen Lansdown – it includes the clubs like Bristol City F.C. and Bristol Rugby.
The Flyers have climbed through the ranks during their nine-year spell in the league – reaching the BBL Cup Final in 2020 and securing their highest league finish of fourth during the 2021-2022 season.
The 2022-2023 season has been another record-breaking year for the club, having secured the most single season wins in program history and a guaranteed top three finish.
The Flyers have sold out every home game at the 750 capacity SGS College Arena dating back to October 19th 2018.
The club expects to commence building of its new 3,600-seater arena at Ashton Gate later this year.
The Flyers have red, white and royal blue colours.
Mike Beesley is a chairman of the club and Andreas Kapoulas is the head coach.
The current squad features British, Welsh and American players.