With the gradual easing of COVID-19 restrictions across much of the country, conditions are now being met that will allow the new campaign to go ahead.
At present, there is a provisional plan in place for the season to begin as follows:
The newly created Challenge Cup for NBL Division One clubs will be played over three weekends, the 3/4, 10/11 and 17/18 October, and will be used as trial events for the coming season. More details will be announced on this in the coming weeks.
Basketball England’s Senior Delivery Manager Gail Richards said: “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.
“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.”
With the Challenge Cup set to kick the season off, the new competition also provides a controlled window of two 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 flex 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.
If the 2020/21 season is able to proceed without a major issue, we have provisionally scheduled the Senior NBL Playoffs for 24/25 April 2021, and the Jnr. Final Fours on 1/2 May 2021. Should the season be delayed or paused for any reason, there is the possibility to shift these dates back as required.
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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