NBL 2020-21 season start could be delayed to January as BE release Return to Play Guidance - Hoopsfix.com

NBL 2020-21 season start could be delayed to January as BE release Return to Play Guidance

Basketball Hoop England

The 2020-21 National Basketball League (NBL) season may not start until as late as January 2021 Basketball England have revealed, as the reality of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to become apparent.

With the 2019-20 season already having been cancelled, the national governing body released their Return to Play guidance last week and with it did a number of webinars to answer questions from clubs and members.

“It’s probably more likely that it will be November start or a January start,” Basketball England Senior Delivery Manager Gail Richards said on Wednesday in the webinar for Senior NBL clubs.

“Pending what comes back out from the Government in terms of indoor facilities which I know is the next update, I think coming in July sort of time.

“As soon as we know that information we will be updating the return to play map and updating teams and clubs.”

A number of barriers exist to getting the national league competitions back, none more-so than venue operators as clubs rely predominantly on academic institutions and leisure centres to play games.

Within the Return to Play Guidance, BE have set six different levels from 0-5, as we currently remain in Level 3; meaning drills and skills only and coach led non-contact sessions.

Basketball England Return to Play Roadmap

It is Level 2 that needs to be reached to allow training sessions and competitions; albeit behind closed doors.

However, it remains to be seen how viable it is for some NBL teams to play behind closed doors.

Basketball England are in the midst of doing a financial sustainability study with their NBL clubs to assess the impact of COVID, and are expected to release their ‘pandemic policy’ this week outlining guidelines and changes to rules and regulations due to the coronavirus.

Clubs have all been asked to nominate a dedicated COVID-19 Club Officer to help with adherence to guidelines.

It is expected teams are going to be given the option to opt out of the 2020-21 season, essentially taking a ‘sabbatical’ to return in the 2021-22 season in the same division with no relegation.

Other things of note in the Return to Play guidance for when games start taking place again:

  • All players and teams being encouraged to do screening for symptoms
  • Hand sanitiser advised for players during game at substitutions and time outs
  • Face covering should be considered by coaches, table officials, statisticians and all other support staff
  • No use of changing rooms, advising players to turn up changed
  • Localised/regionalised competition starting first before expanding to national if government advice allows
  • Advising against the use of minibus and coaches for game travel, along with car pooling and public transport whilst at Levels 3 and 2
  • No spectators until reaching Level 1

Read the full Return to Play Guidance here, or watch BE’s webinar recordings here.

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