Plymouth Raiders director Ross Mackenzie has said working with new majority shareholders BAU Global ‘feels a bit like a dream’, writes Tom Howe.
Owners Mackenzie and Richard Mollard have agreed to sell a majority shareholding of the club to MLA College, part of wider worldwide education powerhouse, BAU.
The move is designed to propel the club to the pinnacle of British Basketball and into European competition, as well as building a working relationship with Bahcesehir College Basketball Club, which is also owned by President of BAU Global, Enver Yucel, in his native Turkey.
The development is about far more than basketball however, with the Raiders looking to utilize the experience of their new colleagues to benefit the community, with a prime focus on educating future generations.
Speaking to the Independent, Mackenzie said: “Richard and I are both Plymouth born and bred. We have both had long associations with the Raiders in different ways, as players, as fans and through my other business as sponsors. We then had the opportunity in 2017 to realise the ability to help take this club into the next generation.
“We have always been passionate as former players and people who can recognise the social impact that sport can have. Basketball here in the UK is on an upward curve in terms of the impact it can have, especially with the minority groups that many, many other sports in the UK do not.
“Part of the work that has gone in here at the Raiders is reaching out to the groups here in Plymouth, engaging with young people who have not necessarily played sport before. Basketball seems to make an impact in a way others have not.
“It was really important that we brought the club back to the fans too. For Richard and I, that was the most important thing. Over the last three years we have been able to put together a competitive team. It feels a bit like a dream to be sat here discussing the next chapter. It feels like the start of something really exciting.”
He continued by saying: “We want to be part of that group of elite clubs in British basketball that maybe have their own arena and can get three or four thousand people at home games. We really want to take this club to the next level. I think, with Enver and his team, we are going to do that.”
Yucal, who has since been welcomed as the new Raiders’ president, attended the sold-out game against Leicester Riders last weekend, calling it a ‘a very important day’. I have educational institutions all around the world and we are the largest education group in Europe,” he explained. “We are one of the biggest education groups in the world and are continuing to invest not only in our own country but all around the world.
“For me, Plymouth is just like the city I was born in in the Black Sea part of Turkey. Why are we in Plymouth? We are the majority owner of MLA College, the higher education institution located in the city.
“Plymouth is the centre of maritime and the capital of education. Aside from our investment in MLA College, we should also be involved in sports and in arts. It was very good for us to meet with Plymouth Raiders and I would like to thank them.
“We know they [Richard and Ross] have done a lot and with our involvement we will be supporting them and working together. I love Plymouth Raiders and I love Plymouth. I believe that we can work together and succeed.
“What are we going to do? We are going to be the champions. Maybe not tomorrow, but we will build a foundation where sport and education will continue together.”
Mollard added: “This is a real honour. We have been delighted to find a really fantastic way that we can work together involving Plymouth basketball, British basketball, Bashakeshir basketball and Turkish basketball in general.
“We are very passionate about the education side of things here in Plymouth. To work with an organisation such as BAU Global who are equally as passionate about education around the world is allowing us to look at education on a global scale which is extremely exciting.”