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Basketball: Venue hitch a pain for Allen; BULLETS: Bid to reform held up by lack of a home HQ.

Byline: By Colin Tattum

THE group aimed at reforming Birmingham Bullets and bringing professional basketball back to Birmingham have revealed their frustrations at the lack of suitable venues in the city.

The day after Great Britain beat Bosnia & Herzegovina 82-74 at the NIA in a key EuroBasket qualifier and a showpiece fixture for Birmingham, the contrast to the hapless state of top-level club hoops here couldn't be any starker.

Birmingham is again without BBL action, for the second time in four years, after Birmingham Panthers folded.

Clive Allen, a former Bullets legend who was Panthers' general manager and assistant coach, is heading the group's bid to bring back Bullets.

They have lodged their interest with the BBL to compete in the 2009-10 season, but are struggling to find a home HQ.

Sheila Hopkins, another driving force of the organisation, said: "We are trying to get basketball up and running but are going round in circles.

"The interest is there, Clive has got potential backers keen, but we know we can't join the BBL unless we have a suitable venue.

"Unfortunately, wherever we go we draw a blank. It's horrendous that in a city like Birmingham there is no professional basketball team or venue, but here we are hosting the GB team."

The future of the Aston Events Centre remains clouded, and Cocks Moors Woods Leisure Centre have committed to other sports as their priority.

Hopkins, Bullets' former match night coordinator since 1980 when the franchise moved from Coventry, said they were talking to other potential hosts, including North Solihull Sports Centre, Bullets' home during their final season in 2006.

The NIA and NEC are simply too expensive, aside from problems over date availability.

Birmingham Athletics and University of Birmingham are both citybased teams and play in the EBL Division Two.

Starting a Bullets side from scratch in a local sports hall in the EBL is one option being looked at, Hopkins confirmed.

Two meetings have been held so far to firm up the plan of action.

"There are people like Clive, other former players, supporters and sponsors, plus the core volunteers, who are all trying to get things going again," said Hopkins.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Sep 11, 2008
Words:366
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