- National Teams
Trying to find out exactly what the British Basketball League (BBL) average salary is, is one of the most frequently researched topics around the UK game. So…
If you want to cut straight to the chase without the background info, based on the British Basketball League salary cap being £250,000 (net), divide that by 12 players and you have an average of £20,833 per year British Basketball League salary.
However, there are other things to take into consideration.
Firstly, though the salary cap is £250,000, it excludes the salaries of the top two British earners on each roster in an effort to retain more British players.
This means, say for the 2019-20 season, on the London Lions, both two-time MVP Justin Robinson and star Ovie Soko’s salaries – two of the highest paid players in the league – will not have counted towards the Lions’ salary cap total.
In theory, that should bring the average BBL player salary up from the stated £20,833, considerably, as some teams will have a payroll of over £250,000.
Additionally, lot of BBL contracts (especially for non-British players) are not 12 months, they are 8-10 (based on the season running from October until May), and along with that BBL player contracts generally include other benefits in kind; such as free accommodation, and a vehicle.
Along with this, of course, not all players are worth the same; some teams will invest considerably more money in the player salary of a star, whilst others will aim to be more balanced across the field.
In a 2020 interview with Hoopsfix, BBL Director and owner of the Sheffield Sharks Yuri Matischen said the average BBL salary is anywhere from £1,000 to £3,000 per month (net after tax), plus of course, benefits in kind such as a house and vehicle.
At the higher end of the scale, Matischen said some players can earn over £50,000 salary in the British Basketball League.
There is currently no minimum salary in the British Basketball League.
That allows teams to play young British players should they wish without having to pay them and therefore avoiding potentially costing them NCAA eligibility as a lot of players want to go to the US and play college basketball.
So why is the salary in the UK basketball league not as high as you would have hoped?
Ultimately, it is because that is all teams can afford.
Though £3,000 plus a car and a house may not seem a lot when compared to the multi-million dollar player salaries in the NBA, that is a good wage to earn a living solely from playing basketball!
BBL franchise owners openly state they would love to be able to pay more but right now, for where the league is, they are unable to.
BBL Director and Sheffield Sharks owner Yuri Matischen said:
“We have lived through the boom and bust of salary inflationary spirals, we’ve employed John Amaechi in our club, we’ve had ex-NBA players – we’ve been and done it all and what we’re trying to do is be financially affordable.
“If people are looking and questioning it and thinking ‘that’s not a lot of money’ – at the moment that’s where the game is. Would we like to pay more? Yes. But we’ve been boom and bust.
“When we had money, in the period where we were receiving money with the NTL deal, we all went boom with salaries and soon went bust.
“We’ve learnt, this is about more than just what you pay salaries, it’s about creating an affordable business plan.
“…Those are the salaries under which we live, it’s there to protect us as clubs, rather than break the bank and find yourself bust after a year or two.”
Former BBL Chairman and current owner of the Newcastle Eagles Paul Blake added:
“Ultimately we can only spend that additional money if we’ve got it, that means I’ve got to sell more tickets and sell more sponsorship.
“I’ll never forget the day that was explained to me in no uncertain terms at an NBA game at the O2 by Mr David Stern, very eloquently, that what we all need to do is sell more tickets and sell more sponsorships and caveat to that, generate a higher price per ticket to increase the revenue.
“Because we will only have a limited number of seats, we’re never have a situation where we have 40,000 seats, we’re a limited audience event in this country so we’ve just got to generate more income that’s the bottom line.”