The British Basketball League will start on October 30 – thanks to a government bailout. 

According to the Telegraph, the UK Government is ready to sign off on a £4 million financial package for the sport that offsets the loss of income from playing behind closed doors due to coronavirus restrictions.

In a statement, the BBL said it is “grateful to those we have been speaking with at Department for Culture Media and Sport for the openness and rapid pace of the discussions, and for the assurances that appropriate support will be made available to those spectator sports affected.”

Sir Rodney Walker said, “We extend our thanks to Oliver Dowden, Nigel Huddleston, and DCMS for their swift response in the wake of the very recent decision to not allow fans back into sports venues. This support comes in recognition of the immense work our clubs have done in preparation for the 2020-21 season, not only for competition but also in terms of the extensive work they do in their communities.”

It is unclear if the sum will be a grant or loan or whether every team could begin play immediately with localised restrictions in place in parts of England – and Glasgow Rocks still not permitted to even train indoors due to Scottish rules.

All eleven clubs had previously agreed not to begin the campaign while spectators were barred from attending although most are understood to have put a streaming service in place to serve season ticket holders and accrue extra income from selling individual games online.

Andy Webb, COO of the BBL, said, “We have a lot of urgent work to do to reformat the schedules and ensure they work with our arenas, but everyone is excited to get going. The games will be played behind closed doors but streaming packages will be available for fans to follow their teams.”


Basketball England has, along with Netball England and Volleyball England, also been in conversation with DCMS and has written to the Prime Minister to seek urgent clarification of the rationale behind the decision halt non-elite adult indoor team sport. Stewart Kellett, CEO of Basketball England said: “Since the Government’s restrictions came into place, BE has collaborated with partners to engage with DCMS and the wider Government about the significant issues caused by recent decisions. “Although we don’t know the level of financial support forthcoming, and it will be based on genuine losses incurred by clubs because of lack of fan income, we are encouraged by the discussions and the opportunity to state a case for the game and pleased the situation has given the BBL the confidence to start their season.”

Riders isolation play

The potentially fraught route to the start line was illustrated on Friday when Leicester revealed “several members of the Riders programme” have tested positive for coronavirus.

The club did not provide details of those implicated but it did force the cancellation of their planned pre-season contest at Bristol Flyers.

A statement said: “Leicester Riders’ priority is the health and well-being of its players and staff throughout its pathway programme.

“The members who have tested positive, and people living in the same proximity, will now strictly follow government self-isolation guidelines.

“We also have a wider care and responsibility to the players and staff from opposing teams. Therefore, with an abundance of caution, we have informed the BBL and Basketball England, and have cancelled the behind closed doors pre-season away Riders game against Bristol Flyers, scheduled for Friday night, and this weekend’s games for Loughborough Riders and Charnwood Riders.”


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