BBL teams will be forced to gamble on starting their season without knowing how much cash they will receive from the government.

Although the British Basketball League has been promised financial help to cope with being forced to play behind closed doors, they – and other clubs – are set for another fortnight’s delay while the exact funding packages are finalised.

Treasury sources suggest there will be “strict conditions” imposed on the help which, according to initial indications, is expected to add up to a £3 million package as part of a bailout for professional sport.

But the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is to ask for more details of the losses facing the eleven clubs, pushing a cloud of uncertainty over the BBL, which tips off its new campaign on Sunday – a month later than planned.

“Sport clubs are the heart of our local communities and it is vital they are protected,” a spokesperson said.

“The Government gave unprecedented financial support to businesses through tax reliefs, cash grants and employee wage support, which many sports clubs have benefited from. Sport England’s Community Emergency Fund has also provided £210 million directly to support community sport clubs and exercise centres through this pandemic.

“The Government recognises the implications for sports clubs of not being able to admit spectators to stadia from 1 October, and are working urgently on what we can do now to support them

“We know that the decision not to reopen stadia to spectators has had economic consequences for sports and clubs across the country who relied on those fans for income.

“We have asked sporting organisations, including the British Basketball League, for detailed financial returns to understand their particular pressures and challenges, and we will continue to design the package of support that will be available.”

The tough road ahead for the BBL was underlined when Saturday’s scheduled season opener between Surrey and Bristol was wiped out when four of the latter’s players tested positive for coronavirus. Under rules agreed by the league, the game will not be replayed with Surrey awarded a 20-0 win.

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