Provisional dates, new 'Challenge Cup' competition for 2020-21 NBL season announced -

Provisional dates, new ‘Challenge Cup’ competition for 2020-21 NBL season announced

Basketball England have set provisional dates for beginning the 2020/21 NBL seasons, targeting mid to late October, with a new competition for Division One clubs, the Challenge Cup starting first weekend of October.

The NBL Division One season is pencilled in for the weekend of 24-25th October for tip off, with all other senior NBL and WNBL Divisions starting the weekend before (17th-18th October), and the Jnr. NBL tipping off 7th and 8th of November.

Meanwhile, the newly created Challenge Cup for NBL Division One clubs will be played over three weekends; the 3-4th, 10th-11th and 17-18th October, and will be used as trial events for the coming season.

The new competition provides a controlled window of three weekends for clubs, officials, coaches and players to understand the “new normal” and how games will need to be conducted before other senior competitions begin.

Club officials from NBL clubs plus local league/area representatives will also be able to attend these fixtures to observe how they take place.

The intention for this staggered start to proceedings is to help flexibility with venue availability across the country, and starting the new Jnr. NBL season from November will allow schools and educational sites time to begin the new year before gaining the confidence to potentially open their facilities after October half-term.

“As we continue to work through the Basketball England Return To Play Road Map, we are delighted to be able to take another step forward and announce a potential return to competition,” Basketball England’s Senior Delivery Manager Gail Richards said.

“Whilst our plans remain provisional and subject to change, the way that clubs and members have responded to the various levels of our Return To Play Guidance so far has been excellent and an encouraging sign as we continue moving forward.

“Between now and the start of the season we’ll keep gathering feedback from the various sectors within the sport and monitoring ongoing trends to ensure that plans remain on course.”

If the 2020-21 season is able to proceed without a major issue, the NGB have provisionally scheduled the Senior NBL Playoffs for 24th-25th April 2021, and the Jnr. Final Fours on 1st-2nd May 2021.

Basketball England’s CEO Stewart Kellett added: “Following positive discussions with the Government about our season start up, we are now seeking a safe and flexible return to play.

“It is important that all clubs, players, coaches, officials, volunteers and everyone connected with the game can get familiar with how the new season will look with COVID management measures in place.

“It continues to be a challenging year, but we believe if our members remain understanding of the situation, we can adapt to any Government announcements and measures, and ensure basketball continues from here on.”

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