Coventry Crusaders forced to withdraw from EBL
By Dave Ryan
Coventry Crusaders have become the latest team to bite the dust after the announcement that they have resigned from EBL Division One.
They won the Division One title in 1993/94 and were runner-up to an all-conquering Crystal Palace side in each of the next two seasons. They also won the play-offs in 1993 as well as being runner-up in 1980, 1981 and 1995, and were National Cup runners-up in 1978.
The Crusaders had been members of the EBL for 23 years, starting as Market Harborough for a year before moving to Corby in 1988 and Coventry in 1990.
Head coach Roger Payne was bankrolling them this season, but has run out of funds after the club was unable to attract a sponsor for the remaining of the season.
Payne, who informed the players of the news, said: "Unfortunately I have had to withdraw the team from the league. Even up to two hours ago I was trying my best to get sponsorship but was unsuccessful."
The writing had been on the wall for a while as Crusaders withdrew from the National Trophy at the start of the season and had threatened to call the plug on things prior to last week's 80-71 home loss against leaders Bristol Academy Flyers.
The club's junior teams will remain in the EBL, but Crusaders' withdrawal and the expunging of their record has made a significant difference to the Division One table. The Crusaders were bottom of the table with a 3-10 record, and were due to host to mid-table Brixton Topcats at the weekend.The big winners are Leicester Warriors who see the two defeats against their midlands rivals wiped out while Derby Trailblazers also see their loss against the Crusaders deleted from the record books.
At the top of the table it makes little difference, with Bristol Academy Flyers, BA London Leopards and Durham Wildcats all losing a pair of victories while Reading Rockets had won in the midlands and were yet to play Coventry at home. However at the bottom of the table, PAWS London Capital certainly lose out, as the removal of their two wins sees them crash from seventh to bottom of the 10-team league.
The loss of Crusaders is another blow to Division One which has lost three clubs in the space of eight months. The original 12-club constitution grew to 13 sides when Capital dropped down from the BBL, but it lost two clubs at the end of June when London Mets folded and Taunton Tigers first team withdrew from the competition.