- National Teams
The BBL and its clubs have seen losses ‘well in excess of seven figures’ according to Leicester Riders’ owner and league Director Kevin Routledge, as they continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the 2019-20 season having been postponed since March 17 following the completion of the BBL Trophy final, the league has been trying to contend with the fall out from the virus which has seen almost a complete cessation of income.
Routledge said the impact on each club varies significantly, due to vastly different sponsorship arrangements, payment plans and number of homes games remaining in their schedule (along with lost playoff revenue) – not to mention the loss of the Playoff final at the O2 which is reportedly worth £250,000 to the league.
Ironically but not surprisingly, it is the clubs that own their own arenas; Leicester, Newcastle and Worcester, who have been the most significantly impacted due to not only the extra overheads, but the loss of projected secondary spend on food and drink during game nights.
“The total impact in terms of lost revenues on the BBL and its clubs is well in excess of seven figures,” Routledge told Hoopsfix.
“The BBL as a league was the most significantly impacted business, because of its digital media rights deals, which directly relates to number of games played/ streamed, and of course the biggest event in the British Basketball calendar, the BBL Playoff Final at The O2 in May was well advanced in its sales and marketing.
“Indeed the Final was on course for all-time record ticket sales, replicating the exceptional commercial performance at the BBL Cup Final at the Arena, Birmingham in January.
“The BBL and its clubs are doing everything possible to sustain their individual businesses. It must be recognised these are unprecedented and highly uncertain times, and basketball is a sport with little collective financial reserves, or large media contracts, which could theoretically sustain the businesses.”
Routledge confirmed the league – in line with other sports – has made representations to secure further support from the government and wanted to note that the BBL has been a major funder of the British Basketball Federation again this 2019/20 season, and that Newcastle took the commercial risk on the staging of the GB vs Germany game in February.
Each club has been addressing player and staff contracts on an individual basis, with the majority also having taken advantage of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme provided by the government to furlough staff.
In a statement released by the BBL yesterday, Head of Operations Andy Webb said clubs have been meeting weekly online to share best practice, whilst the board has also been meeting weekly online to determine the best strategies for sustaining the league and clubs through the duration of the pandemic.
We wanted to share an update on what's been happening since the postponement of the season. you can read the full update here: https://t.co/XMiv0cYco1
— British Basketball League (@BBLofficial) April 22, 2020
He added the two options currently being considered for the conclusion of the season are finding a way to completing the 2019-20 season prior to the commencement of the 2020-21 season, or cancelling the 2019-20 season, to then amend the structure and format of the 2020-21 season.
Sheffield Sharks’ General Manager Sarah Backovic has told the Yorkshire Post she envisions the 2019-20 season being completed in September.
“Realistically the plan now is to look at some form of conclusion, whether that be a tournament play-off, or a round-up of games at the beginning of next season.
“Nothing is concluded, there’s all sorts of contributions from around the league, but that is my personal view.
“I just don’t see us being able to complete the season in the same way as it was finished, with the same teams.
“Whatever we do, finishing this current season will happen ahead of the start of next season. That’s the general consensus of opinion, and I think it’s shared by other clubs.”
Different clubs are trialling a number of initiatives to retain engagement with their fans, and some have commenced next season sales to provide a bridge to the resumption of sport, including via the sale of season tickets and seeking donations for their Foundations.
“The BBL and its clubs are hugely appreciative of all the support we have received in recent years, and very much appreciative of the patience our fans have shown through these exceptional challenging and uncertain times, and we look forward to a resumption of BBL action at the earliest possible and safe time. Meanwhile, we hope they all stay safe and well.”
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