Thames Valley Tigers
|Thames Valley Tigers|
|League(s)||British Basketball League|
|History||Southern Pirates |
Thames Valley Tigers
|Colours||Orange, Black and White|
Thames Valley Tigers was a British basketball team competing in the British Basketball League (BBL) until 2005, when funding was ceased and the franchise folded. Based in Bracknell, Berkshire, the team's fans setup a new team to replace the Tigers and just a month later the Guildford Heat was born. Playing in the nearby town of Guildford, at the Spectrum complex, the team started the 2005-06 British Basketball League season with many of the former Tigers players, and has risen to be a massive success.
The franchise originally started out as the Southern Pirates, playing out of the city of Portsmouth, however they were soon moved inland in 1975 to the town of Guildford retaining the name Southern Pirates. In 1982, the Pirates moved again to near-by Bracknell, becoming the Bracknell Pirates and later the Thames Valley Tigers. For many years, the Tigers were one of the front runners of the league, evening winner the league Championship in 1994, but it was in the new millennium that the successes dried up and for owner John Nike the team was too much of a financial burden. In April 2005, he announced that he would no longer be funding the basketball franchise nor his ice hockey franchise Bracknell Bees.
Immediately a consortium of fans was formed to save the club, headed by local fan Mike Davies, and they put together a viable package to take over the administration of the team. However, Nike failed to reach agreement in time for them to lease the franchise, and the deadline for entry into the BBL for 2005-2006 was reached. The Tigers' BBL membership thus lapsed, but the fans obtained permission from the League to enter a new team in their place, and successful negotiations with the Spectrum Arena in Guildford, where the Pirates franchise started, led to the birth of the brand new Guildford Heat.
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