NBL: 2020/21 structures confirmed with no promotion or relegation - updated

Following a meeting of Basketball England’s Leagues and Competitions Advisory Group, it has been decided there will be no promotion and relegation between any National Basketball League divisions following the 2020/21 season. 

The group has met after hearing feedback from clubs across the senior and junior leagues and the decision has been made to suspend movement between divisions for one season in a bid to mitigate the challenges caused to the sport by COVID-19. 

The NBL entry process for the new season has closed and the league structures finalised, with five teams taking up the option of a season-long league sabbatical. 

With a start date for the 2020/21 campaign yet to be set, the Advisory Group listened to concerns from clubs and unanimously opted to run fixtures with no promotion or relegation. 

This means: 

  • Teams who finish in the top two places in the divisions in 2020/21 season cannot apply for the higher leagues for 2021/22, unless spaces become available from the higher leagues and a team can demonstrate the standards required of the division above during this season.   
  • Teams who finish in the bottom two places within a division at the end of the 2020/21 season, will not be relegated from the league they are based within and will hold their place into the 2021/22 season.  

The Advisory Group considered the following factors in their decision: 

  • The need for flexibility during the season because of the possibility of a second wave of infection and further lockdown restrictions 
  • The potential for individuals within the basketball community to contract COVID-19 or needing to self-isolate, meaning teams are unable to compete at full strength, have to postpone fixtures or are unable to complete their season
  • The potential loss of income for clubs because of restricted attendances or sponsorship  
  • Overseas players being unable to travel 

The five teams taking up the option of a one-year sabbatical are: Liverpool Basketball Club (Division Two Men), Brighton Cougars (Division Two Women South), Myerscough College (Division Two Women North), Eastside Eagles (Under 14 Boys Regional and Under 16 Boys Conference).



The National Cup Finals in February 2020 were the only competitions won in 2019/20 following a curtailed end to the season

Gail Richards, Senior Delivery Manager, said: 

“This has been a difficult decision, taking into account many implications that the removal of promotion or relegation may cause for teams. 

“However, a lot remains unknown and issues may arise over the course of the season. The members of the Advisory Group, which is made up of highly experienced figures from both senior and junior levels of the sport, felt that the most sensible and fair course of action would be to remove promotion and relegation within all competitions.  

“This is also something that has been seen in a number of other sports following the COVID-19 outbreak. 

“The decision is intended to ease the pressure on teams, should they be put into a position that is beyond their control and we will continue to work with clubs to make sure the season is still as enjoyable and productive as possible for all involved.” 

Pandemic Policy changes

The changes outlined above have been reflected in our Pandemic Policy (see below) along with revised dates for when teams can withdraw from leagues (original dates scored through), another adjustment designed to give teams more flexibility to cope with the pressures caused by Covid-19.

This article was first published on 5 August 2020. The Senior and Junior structures have subsequently been updated.