Scotland’s newest professional women’s basketball team has been announced ahead of the upcoming season.
The recently-formed Caledonia Gladiators will step onto the court in October, backed by multimillionaire Scottish investors Stephen and Alison Timoney.
A new “high-tech” arena is also in the works, with plans already under way for a purpose-built facility in Lanarkshire.
The Gladiators are the only professional women’s team in Scotland with a fully-integrated pathway, competing at the highest level in the Women’s British Basketball League (WBBL).
They will kick off their WBBL campaign on October 16 against the Cardiff Met Archers.
The team have already announced their first signings, with experienced Spaniard Miguel Ángel Ortega Marco taking on the role of WBBL head coach, and ex-Olympian Chantel Handy as a player and assistant coach.
Caledonia Gladiators was formed by the merging of Caledonia Pride, which was Scotland’s first WBBL team, and Lady Rocks, a voluntary Scottish female basketball club.
Lisa Palombo, co-founder of Lady Rocks Basketball Club, said: “Without doubt, this allows us to grow the game further. It will create greater opportunities for players, inspiring some to be seriously ambitious.
“Being able to provide a pathway for players to progress through community participation to high performance, is a first for us and for Scotland.
“The new franchise will also support other roles beyond playing, such as coaching, officiating and sports administration- It really is an exciting time for everyone”
Steve Timoney said: “Alison and I have supported Lady Rocks women’s basketball for over ten years. We challenged them to dream big and that’s exactly what they have done. As a result, we are working to develop a strong pathway to bring top talent to the professional basketball club with an aim to compete and win at the very top level.
“A successful professional club needs a home and we believe we can deliver a world-class venue that will set a new standard for the UK and be among the best in Europe.
“We are inspired by the commitment of other investors to the success of British Basketball and we are keen to build on this, believing we can lead the way across the UK and beyond.
“Our commitment, starting with a high-tech arena – a first for Scotland – will contribute to the success of the game and inspire our communities to become involved in a world leading sport.”
Following a proposal by Lady Rocks to take over Caledonia Pride, offering it future stability and longevity, the Cumbernauld-based club gained full agreement from Basketball Scotland.
Caledonia Gladiators will now move forward with the Timoneys as the new franchise owners.