Return To Play update: What return to three-tier restrictions means for basketball

The Government’s decision to return to a three-tier Covid-19 alert system today (Wednesday 2 December) was confirmed by a House of Commons vote last night. 

Following a series of meetings with Sport England, the Department of Media Culture and Sport (DCMS) and governing bodies of other sports since the initial announcement last week, Basketball England can confirm thsport is able to return to indoor training and competitive basketball across the Government levels as set out below. 

There is positive news with spectators allowed at ‘elite’ indoor sporting events and fixtures in Tier 1 and 2 areas and the return of junior activity, though the non-elite adult sector of the game remains heavily restricted across all tiers. 

Stewart Kellett, Basketball England CEO, said: “We are happy to welcome supporters back at elite fixtures and glad of the return of activity for our junior members.

"But, while it is clear strict non-elite rules apply in tier-three areas, it is disappointing and frustrating, that after submitting of a set of protocols for adult non-elite basketball to return safely in tier one and two areas, that it has not been possible in the manner we would have wished.”  

Tier 1 areas - Medium  

  • Elite competition and training – BBL, WBBL, NBL Division One, WNBL Division One, EABL, WEABL (RTP Level 2). Elite level is defined by government and detailed in Appendix 5 of the RTP document HERE 
  • Non-elite senior training and competition in bubbles of up to six people (RTP Level 2 but with six-person limit)  
  • Junior competition and training – Jnr. NBL and local leagues for U18s and younger (RTP Level 2). 
  • Educationally-based competition and training – Schools, Colleges (AoC Sport, ABL) for U18 players. For players over 18, Non-elite rules apply. 

Tier 2 areas - High 

  • Elite competition and training – BBL, WBBL, NBL Division One, WNBL Division One, EABL, WEABL (RTP Level 2). Elite level is defined by government and detailed in Appendix 5 of the RTP document HERE 
  • Non-elite senior can only train indoors with members of their households or support bubbles. No competition is permitted  
  • Junior competition and training – Jnr. NBL and local league for U18s and younger (RTP Level 2) 
  • Educationally-based competition and training – Schools, Colleges (AoC Sport, ABL) for U18 players. For players over 18, Non-Elite rules apply. 

Tier 3 areas – Very High   

  • Elite competition and training – BBL, WBBL, NBL Division One, WNBL Division One, EABL, WEABL (RTP Level 2). Elite level is defined by government and detailed in Appendix 5 of the RTP document HERE.  
  • Non-elite senior can only train indoors with members of their households or support bubbles. No competition is permitted
  • Junior competition and training – Jnr. NBL and local league for U18s and younger (RTP Level 2).
  • Educationally-based training and Competition – Schools, colleges (AoC Sport, ABL) for U18 players. For players over 18, Non-elite rules apply. 

These conditions provide a framework to allow competition and training under the outlined conditions. However, clubs are not obliged to play and should contact Basketball England if they are uncomfortable or concerned about conditions in their areas.  

Please note that in a change to conditions announced previously, players who turn 18 during the season are now able to continue playing in U18 teams and competitions.

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Travel 

For the purposes of undertaking elite and U18 basketball activity we travel into and out of Tier 3 areas is permitted, for example if a junior player is part of a club in a Tier 3 area lives in a Tier 2 area. 

Competition 

Except for NBL and WNBL Division 1, which has continued to operate under an elite exemption, we will plan for restart of Junior National Basketball League competitions in late January/early February. Further details to be released shortly. 

Although competition is permitted from the 2 December in some areas, we are mindful of the issues caused by travel restrictions to tier-three areas, fixturing, venue access and returning players to training is the priority. We have created a six-week return to training programme for clubs to ensure that we don’t overload players and see a spike in injury rates. 

With the above in mind, we would strongly urge all local league partners to consider a January restart to competitions for their junior 5v5 leagues and 3x3 senior leagues (Tier 1 only). 

In line with our partners at AoC Sport, the EABL/WEABL/ABL will restart in January 2021. 

Spectators

At elite events and fixtures in Tier 1 and 2 areas, a maximum of 1,000 supporters or 50% of the venues capacity – whichever is lower – will be allowed access. 

This is positive news for the sport and will provide clubs the opportunity to re-engage with fans and to reignite the ecosystem of the sport. 

Stewart Kellett, Basketball England CEO added: 

“We have engaged in prolonged discussions with the DCMS and Sport England following the Government’s announcement of the return to the three-tier system last week.  

“It is positive news that our junior players can return to training under varying conditions, that some competition will be permitted and that spectators can return at elite fixtures. But we feel large sections of the basketball community, along with other indoor sports, have been treated in a detrimental and disproportionate way. 

“We will continue to engage with DCMS on this matter and we hope that a return to the court across the whole sport will be possible in the new year. 

“We thank the basketball community for their patience while these discussions have been taking place and while the Government’s decision was ratified by Tuesday’s vote in the House of Commons. Before this point, we simply could not be certain about the Return To Play guidance to help the game move forward.  We will continue our dialogue with the DCMS to find the best way forward for the whole of the sport.” 

Membership 

As part of the Return to Play, clubs, leagues and members must be registered and affiliated with Basketball England in order to undertake any basketball activity, whether that is indoors/outdoors or individual/group.  

Information on how to do this can be found in our membership hub 

Should further support be required, please email support@basketballengland.co.uk and they will be able to advise further. 

A list of our registered and affiliated clubs/leagues/associations for the 2020/21 season can be found here.