Lockdown: Non-elite season cancelled, Covid testing for elite

Basketball England has made two key decisions about the 2020/21 season following the recent start of another national lockdown. 

Following consultation with the elite teams and players active in the National Basketball League Division One (Men and Women), the season will continue under our current Government-sanctioned Return To Play Guidance with additional Covid-19 testing. 

However, non-elite senior and junior NBL/WNBL competitions, suspended until this point, will be cancelled for the season with the option of alternative competition later in the year, should conditions be safe and viable. 

Elite basketball 

After internal reviews and consultation with clubs and players, the following has been agreed to enable a responsible way forward for NBL1/WNBL1 teams, while mitigating the risk presented by the increasing Covid-19 R-rate: 

  • BE to enhance RTP Guidance by introducing lateral flow testing, a move supported by clubs and players  
  • NBL1 games to go ahead under existing RTP Guidance; BE to support clubs not currently testing players/staff to do so 
  • WNBL1 games on hold until the end of January, a decision made by the WNBL1 working group; play to resume from 30 January with testing for players/staff 
  • Provision for testing for the remainder of the 2020/21 season to be included in BE’s Winter Survival submission to Sport England and Government 
  • BE to review the position at the end of January based on the latest Government position, the outcome of the Winter Survival funding bid and consultation with clubs/players 
  • The Elite academy leagues (EABL, WEABL) will be cancelled for the 2020/21 season as a result of the lockdown restrictions and closure of educational institutionsThe potential for alternative competitions/events later in the year when conditions allow will be explored 

Elite level is defined by Government and detailed in Appendix 5 of the BE Return To Play Guidance HERE 

Non-elite basketball 

  • NBL2 and 3 and WNBL2, ABL, Jnr NBL and local leagues to be cancelled for the 2020/21 season. The potential for alternative competitions/events later in the year when conditions allow will be explored 
  • BUCS have cancelled the 2020/21 university sport season 

Stewart Kellett, CEO of Basketball England, said: 

“We have taken note of the increased risk currently posed by the rate of Covid-19 and the concerns of our clubs and players at elite level and will expand the testing currently taking place to keep everyone involved as safe as possible. 

“Our RTP is robust and Government approved but we believe this gives an extra layer of security. 

“We have also taken the difficult decision to cancel all non-elite basketball – at senior and junior levels – for the 2020/21. We have held off from this sad moment for as long as possible in the hope that some part of the traditional September-May season could be salvaged. 

“But it is clear that, with the rising R-rate, a new strain of the virus, the Government’s position on non-elite sport and half our season already wiped out, that this is not practical or sensible any longer. We all want our game back, but the stress and challenges on players, volunteers, parents, officials and everyone in the game to keep planning for a return has escalated to an intolerable level.   

“I would like to thank players, clubs, volunteers, parents and officials for their patience and understanding in this frustrating, worrying and uncertain time and hope this decision allows for us all to plan and prepare for a return to the courts on 2021/22 and, hopefully before then, the option of some alternative form of competition later in the year, if conditions allow. Our aim is to work with you and plan to get ahead of the disruption curve so we can recover for an enjoyable and successful season from September.” 

Club support during Covid-19 

We will communicate further on the resumption of intra-club activity once the Government confirms the end of the lockdown and a return to the tier system.  

We have assisted over 200 clubs during the Covid disruption. This service will continue and if any clubs are having difficulty navigating this next phase, contact us at [email protected]k. 

Local Leagues 

If any local league or association requires further discussion or support in planning for recovery later this year and readiness for next season please contact your Regional Committee or email us at support@basketballengland.co.uk. 


Information regarding payments already made for club affiliations, memberships, and licences for the 2020/21 season will be published in June.  

This will allow us to assess the feasibility of any potential summer activity (eg mini-leagues, 3x3, summer camps) should Covid restrictions allow. If you have any queries, please email [email protected].