‘It’s been successful’: Manchester Giants chief executive looking to future after solid first year back in BBL

By Phil Jones

Manchester Giants chief executive Steve Mansfield declared himself happy with the club’s off-court development during their return to the BBL.

Mansfield was a driving force behind the group of Manchester enthusiasts who resurrected the club in 2011, bringing top-flight basketball back to the city after an 11-year absence.

And with the dust now settled on the Giants’ ninth-placed finish, agonisingly missing out on the play-offs, he thinks the club is set for a strong future.

“I think it’s been a very successful year,” he said.

“This season was all about creating a sustainable model, making sure we would be around in 25 years and I think we’ve started doing that.”

In February the Giants announced a vital piece in building the organisation into a club for life with new satellite centres in Stockport, Bury, Oldham and Warrington.

The sites will provide affordable facilities aimed at developing a steady stream of home-grown talent for the Giants roster.

“The deal for the Ball Halls’ was really important for the Giants,” added Mansfield.

“We’ve put in place a number of blocks to move things on for next season – we’re taking to the next level with full-time people on the project now.”

With plans for a National Basketball Centre included in the recently approved designs for Belle Vue Sports Village, the Giants’ hunt for a permanent home could be over.

But while Mansfield said the east Manchester location is being considered as a venue from 2015 onwards, its 2,500 capacity may prove a limiting factor.

“We’re still in negotiations and discussions, it’s not going to be a quick process but we hope to announce something at the end of next season,” he added.

“We have to consider whether Belle Vue will actually be big enough for us moving forward.

“We got 1,300 people in our final home game at the end of our first season, what could we have at the end of season three?”

While discussions continue on long-term decisions, coach Jeff Jones and the Giants board are hard at work finalising the 2013-14 playing squad.

But with contract renewals for current players and deals for new recruits yet to be signed, Mansfield was tight-lipped on comings and goings.

“Plans are developing well, we’ve got three definite targets we’re working very hard on – but you’re not getting names yet,” he said.

“We’re very confident on at least two of them and they’re very well known so they’ll go down well.

“It shouldn’t be too long before announcements are made though and all the players we’re keen on retaining, are keen on staying too.”

Last season’s squad played all but one of their 17 home games on Friday nights at Wright Robinson Sports College, but that looks set to change next term.

March’s fixture against Leicester Riders was successfully rearranged to a Sunday afternoon and Mansfield is keen to continue the experiment without fear of losing fans to football.

“We’re 95% certain to be moving to Sunday afternoon,” he said.

“It’s a concern but I think we’re building up a strong enough fan base now that we should be able to cope.

“The few fans we perhaps would lose to other sports we’ll more than make up for with new people coming to see the Giants.”

The Manchester Giants players will return to training in early August in anticipation of the autumn’s new BBL season.

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