Lions face life outside the city

Mk Lions new venue at Grafton Gate less than 1 week before first match'''Wk47 MPMC
Mk Lions new venue at Grafton Gate less than 1 week before first match'''Wk47 MPMC
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“WE don’t want to leave Milton Keynes” said chief executive Vince Macauley, whose MK Lions team face homelessness for a third time.

The popular basketball side have been evicted from the Winterhill warehouse they’ve called home since November 2010, despite signing a three-contract with their landlords.

It has been a turbulent ride for Lions in recent years. Having started life playing at Bletchley Leisure Centre, they expected to be playing in the arena adjacent to stadium:mk in 2008, but as yet it is still to be completed. They then called Middleton Hall in thecentre:mk their home until management put paid to a further season in the shopping centre. Lions played several times at Stoke Mandeville in Aylesbury before cutting a deal to move into Winterhill.

But a clause in the contract stated that if the land were to be sold, Lions would be given six months notice to find a new home.

Macauley admitted that life outside of Milton Keynes was a possibility - though a last resort - if his team are to remain in action next season.

“I don’t want the team to leave Milton Keynes,” he said. “But I’ve already had other towns in contact with me about the possibility of moving the team and we have to consider it.

“We’re building a legacy here - we’ve had 27 England internationals, we’ve helped young players play out in America on big scholarships, we’ve helped players go on £60,000 basketball scholarships in this country, and we won the league title here in Milton Keynes.

“You cannot blame the landlords - they’ve sold the land for retail space and activated the clause.

“We’ve known since the new year and have been looking for places to go, and talking to anyone that we can to try and find a new home.

“So for now, we’re heading back into storage.”

And while British Basketball League rules state that a team can go on hiatus for a year, Macauley said that several teams have taken the option, but have never made it back.