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Basketball: Bown budgeting to make Bullets high-calibre weapon.

Craig Bown, the latest millionaire to buy into sport, broke the bank to buy Peugeot Bullets Birmingham and has pledged to spend time and more money turning them into the best basketball side in the country.

Bown, expected to be named as the new Bullets' supremo before the weekend, is already making plans to put the side at the top of the Budweiser League.

The six-figure price the 41-year-old Nottingham businessman has had to pay will not be the last of his spending spree.

Having already announced that Mike Finger will stay in place as coach, Bown has pledged to top up the pounds 175,000 salary cap for players with more cash on the peripherals of basketball management.

"We will spend up to the salary cap and more on top of that on things like player perks and coaching," said Bown, whose fortune has been made from the pounds 20 million sale of the private healthcare business he built up from scratch and event management company Audiocom.Co.UK.

"We are looking to hold on to our existing players and build up a really strong side. Mike has done a sterling job for the Bullets in the past and we are looking to build on that success."

Finger received a massive vote of confidence from the new boss, who will leave his coach to choose from a crop of young and experienced talent - with some almost certainly from across the Atlantic.

"He is very focused and knows how to build a team. He will be the man recruiting players, because I have every confidence that he will put together a great side," said Bown.

The Bullets had been in limbo since former owner Harry Wrublewski handed control to the Budweiser League and returned to his native Australia for family reasons. Bown's timely intervention will ensure many players who faced a close season of uncertainty, can be targeted with renewed confidence.

Bown revealed Peugeot would remain as major sponsor and with Sky ready to commit pounds 500,000 to the league and the BBC also on board, Bown sees basketball out-stripping many other sports.

"My kids got me interested," said Bown, who was introduced to basketball when living in Colorado. "It is the perfect family entertainment. It is indoors, appeals to all ages, has a lot of things kids find cool and there is nearly always a winner."
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Author:Thomson, Fraser
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 12, 1999
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