BT SPORT are close to agreeing a major media rights deal which could transform British basketball.
The broadcaster has been in talks with Premier League Basketball since May over a five-year deal to invest big money in the sport.
BT have pledged in writing to support a new eight-team summer league – which could spell the end of the current British Basketball League – showing at least two live matches a week, from 2017.
The deal includes an option for BT to extend the agreement for another five years.
Its understood further funding is needed to get a new league off the ground, but the BT deal is regarded as the key to making this happen.
The PLB set itself up as the future of British basketball years ago and has gone through several rebranding makeovers since.
Based in the USA, it has come under fire from fans, clubs and officials in the past for being out of touch and making promises it has failed to keep.
But in that time it has managed to assemble an impressive team, with former Toronto Raptors president and GM Bryan Colangelo the latest appointed to its Advisory Board.
And the PLB believe BT Sport’s interest is a game changer – with key figures from the organisation set to relocate to London next month to help push the plan forward.
Miami Heat and Great Britain star Luol Deng is among those who have supported the PLB, while former NBA player John Amaechi has also acted as an advisor.
Part of the proposal, which BT supports, involves a US-style draft to take place in April 2017 in New York and London, with 250 players invited to take part.
These will be divided by a selection committee into three pools depending on talent and experience.
It is understood NCAA and high school players will be invited, along with established professionals and players with NBA experience. There will be one designated British player per club.
Owners would invest in the league, with Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Newcastle, Nottingham, Cardiff and Sheffield proposed as the bases for the eight launch clubs.
If successful, the league would then expand to ten clubs in year three and 12 in year four. Bristol and Belfast are mentioned as potential expansion cities. Manchester and Leicester do not feature.
The mission statement includes a promise to: “Combine high-quality, competitive professional play with an exciting indoor game-day experience to differentiate PLB from the current UK professional basketball offering.”
BT Sport is already the exclusive home of the NBA on UK television and last summer screened Great Britain’s home qualifiers for EuroBasket 2015.