Leicester Riders chair Kevin Routledge says the sporting lockout is “devastating” for the BBL.

It has been confirmed that the British Basketball League will delay the start of its season which had been due to tip off this Friday.

In a statement following a conference call on Wednesday, it said: “Sir Rodney Walker, Chair of the British Basketball League, has today written to Secretary of State Oliver Dowden in support of a submission for financial support being made by BBL and Basketball England.

“In the letter, Sir Rodney detailed the impact on the BBL and WBBL as well as the effects being felt on the community work carried out by clubs. The letter was also sent to Nigel Huddleston, Under-Secretary of State for Sport, Dame Katherine Grainger, Chair of UK Sport, and to Nick Bitel, Chair of Sport England.”

Like other sports, the BBL has included data on potential financial costs of being forced to play indefinitely behind closed doors – and to its community programmes.

No new start date has been announced with the eleven teams having a prior agreement between the eleven not to play games if no spectators were allowed to attend under protocols to contain Covid-19.

The BBL remains in a line of sports awaiting news on their request for financial assistance from the UK government as discussions between the Treasury and Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport continue.

There is, however, no guarantees of backing and with signals that sporting fixtures in England may remain behind closed doors until well into 2021 – and no easing expected in Scotland for the foreseeable future – doubts remain that there can be a domestic season at all.

And for Leicester, whose bold decision to build their own arena has now left them with a financial liability due to a potentially drastic drop in their revenues, the impact is being acutely felt.

“It is going to have a massive impact on all BBL clubs, because there is a huge dependency for all clubs on gate receipts and local sponsors,” Routledge told the club’s website.

“We have been advised the government will consider requests for support, but the challenge will be for clubs to survive, while negotiations go on.
“Because we are one of a few Clubs that have control of our own Arena, we also have amongst the highest overheads in the British game.

“Obviously we want to play games only when it is safe to do so, but all venues are different, and the risks will be very different.

“We will be working very hard with the BBL to consider all options and hope to let our supporters and sponsors know very soon the outcome.

“We don’t rule out playing behind closed doors for a period, but that is not a sustainable way of operating, and it is unclear whether all clubs could even start on that basis.

“Ultimately we are in the hands of government.”

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