A top-flight women’s basketball team has pulled out of this year’s WBBL (Women’s British Basketball League) season.
The Sevenoaks Suns Club said the difficult decision had been made for “financial and administrative reasons.”
The club said: “The cost of participating in the league has increased dramatically over the past few years making the current financial model unsustainable.”
It added: “We are hopeful that a new model can be worked out to enable the team to return for the 2024-25 WBBL season.
“We’re proud to have been a part of the growth of the women’s game in the nine years since the WBBL was founded and remain committed to building women’s basketball in Britain.”
The team’s head coach, Len Busch, said that he had ploughed £100,000 of his own money into promoting his three-time WBBL champions team in this season alone, but said it was "untenable" for him to continue to do so.
He said the majority of the money went on player salaries, but that game-day costs were typically £500 a match, plus travelling expenses.
He said the average attendance at home games was only around 100 which yielded insufficient gate money to cover costs. There is no cash prize, even for winners of the league, and no payment of television rights.
Mr Busch said: “It’s very sad.
“It was a joyful expereince at first, dealing with such talented and happy people. But after nine years, I find that 95% of the tme, I’m not even coaching, just trying to keep everything together.”
Mr Busch said he hoped the women’s team might return one day, if a sponsor came forward, and he stressed that Sevenoaks Suns’ other teams were unaffected.
He said: “The junior section is particularly strong.”
Mr Busch, who began his basketball coaching career in New York 30 years ago, said it was an opportunity for him to review his life and see if there was something else he wanted to do.
Part of the problem was that the team, that had initially played at Sevenoaks School, had no home arena, playing their home WBBL games at the Surrey Sports Park in Guildford.
He said smaller clubs like the Suns had been unable to keep up with clubs like the London Lions and the Caledonia Gladiators who had lots of money to spend.
He said his players had been “emotional” when told the news.