Sheffield Hatters ‘devastated’ after falling 60k short in 60th year

It highlights the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic that Sheffield Hatters, the UK’s first and most decorated women’s basketball club, have been forced to withdraw from next season’s Women’s British Basketball League due to a lack of funding.

Helen Naylor: Sheffield Hatters star says club were unable to raised £60,000.

The Sheffield club aimed to raise £60,000 during the summer, to help finance the costs of competing in the 2020/21 season.

The Hatters will celebrate their 60th anniversary next year but were unable to reach their fundraising target, meaning this campaign will be the first time they have not competed in the elite tier of the women’s game.

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A self-sufficient club, the Sheffield outfit are reliant on ticket sales, sponsors and fundraisers but all those revenue streams have been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak.

Helen Naylor, one of the club’s star players, admits that the whole squad were left “heartbroken and devastated” by the news.

“It had been a bit touch and go whether or not we would be able to get a sponsor and raise the money,” said Naylor, who is the first woman to score 1,000 points in the WBBL.

“When we realised when we definitely couldn’t for this season, we were all just really devastated. It is the 60th anniversary for the Hatters so it would have been a really special year. Any other year we still would have been as disappointed as we are now. It is just such a shame we couldn’t find a sponsor or raise the funds.”

The Hatters will compete in Division Two of the women’s game next season, although will be without coach Vanessa Ellis who has taken a one-year coaching role in Austria.

However, Naylor feels the Hatters need to develop a more long-term financial plan with the door open for them to return to the WBBL in 2021.

Naylor added: “We are just going to have a bit of a rebuilding year and work hard to get the funds we need for next year.

“But we also need to look at something that is going to be more long term, we can’t go through this every year just before the season.

“We are going to try and get back into the WBBL but have to have plans in place for next year.”

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