The British Basketball League (BBL) announced today that the remainder of the current 2019/20 season will be cancelled following the continued impact of coronavirus.
The move came after the member clubs unanimously agreed that there was no viable option to allow for the season to be completed in a safe and meaningful manner after the season was originally postponed on 17 March.
The League had been working alongside the basketball national governing bodies (NGBs) of Basketball England and Basketball Scotland and the British Basketball Federation, as well as following advice from FIBA (International Basketball Federation) and the UK Government to explore all the available options to resume play.
Following the cancellation of the season, and based on multiple teams mathematically capable of winning, the independent directors of the BBL Management Board agreed that there would be no winner of the championship title.
BBL Chairman Sir Rodney Walker said, “Obviously this is not the way anyone wanted to see the season end and we worked hard to try to find an alternative solution. The 2019/20 season was one of the most exciting and competitive we’ve seen and shaping up to a very exciting finish, and we look forward to building on that as we move into the new 2020/21 season.”
“Looking back, we had the biggest crowd ever at the BBL Cup Final at The Arena, Birmingham in January, when over 9,000 fans enjoyed a resurgent Worcester Wolves beating a Bristol Flyers team in their first final, and we were on track for our highest ever revenues for the BBL Playoff Final at The O2, which was due to take place two weeks ago. In addition, the race for the BBL Championship title was the most open for many years, so clearly we will have a lot of disappointed fans.”
“But we looked at every option, including playing behind closed doors or restarting the season in the summer, in order that we could get to a League and Playoff winners, but with the continued uncertainty, we just ran out of time and options. The clubs were united that now was the right time to bring the current season to a close.”
“We want to thank all our sponsors, partners and fans, and look forward to bringing them the best of British basketball, and the sport’s biggest events, as soon as we are able.”
Looking ahead, the British Basketball League has also announced plans for the 2020/21 season, as the lockdowns start to slowly ease, and sports start to resume across the UK and the world. Announcing plans for the BBL Trophy, BBL Cup and Championship competitions, British basketball fans will see even more games being played over the season as a change to the Championship competition sees teams face each other three times over the course of the season.
For the time being, the BBL are keeping open the exact starting date for the new season, pending further Government advice of what will be allowable for indoor areas but are aiming for the season to start in the autumn.
Speaking about the uncertainty, BBL Chief Operating Officer, Andy Webb said, “We’re working towards starting in the autumn as we would be normally. But we will only set our launch date when we have information from the Government that it is safe to do so.”
“Clearly playing to full arenas would be ideal but there is currently no certainty on when that will be, and we are exploring all options in close consultation with our Clubs. The atmosphere at our games across the League is always electric and we look forward to welcoming British basketball fans back as soon as possible. The safety of players, coaches, club staff and fans is paramount and we will be adhering to all guidelines to allow them to return safely. We do understand that these plans can change and so we’re doing appropriate contingency planning while retaining flexibility, so that we can act quickly and safely when we need to.”