Portobello move may signal basketball team‘s death

PLAYERS at Scotland’s top basketball club have warned it faces being slam-dunked out of existence.

City of Edinburgh Basketball Club, currently based at Portobello High, assumed it would move with the school when it relocates to a new building under controversial plans being pushed forward by the city council. But they revealed “downgraded” gym facilities at proposed premises in Portobello Park could force the club to leave its home of 20 years.

Fears were sparked after it emerged the replacement gym would not have enough space for spectator stands used during high-profile matches and competitions – an important source of income.

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Senior men’s starting centre Simon Flockhart, 33, said: “It would be a slow death for us. Not having the spectators at matches would be a big blow.”

The row comes as council bosses press on with plans to build a new high school in 
Portobello – now subject to a Private Bill being put to the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Flockhart said that after designs were released, club representatives asked that the new gym hall be extended to accommodate spectator stands.

But council bosses refused, saying the redesign would cost nearly £260,000 and was not affordable.

Mr Flockhart, who has played with the club since he was 16 and is also its funding co-ordinator, said: “If we don’t have people coming to watch, we won’t get new people involved. Last year our running costs were something like £20,000. Around two-thirds of that goes on rent. If we had to, we’d move but it would be with great reluctance. The high school has been our home for two decades and we know from experience with the men’s side that moving to somewhere like Meadowbank would just be too costly.”

Senior women’s team coach Ben Gunn said the club didn’t deserve to have its future threatened. “Our facilities are being downgraded. We’ll be getting less than we are at the moment, which is disappointing given everything we’ve put into the community here,” he said.

Council chiefs said redrawing the blueprint for the new gym was not possible.

“The council is seeking to renew the planning consent and have no plans to make any amendments,” a spokeswoman said.

“We are confident that the facilities at the new school will meet the requirements of the club.”