The NBL has confirmed the 2020-2021 season will be delayed until mid-January, with New South Wales, South Australia, and Victoria the lead candidates to host a hub.
NBL owner and executive chairman Larry Kestelman believes it is in the league’s best interests to push back the season to allow more fans to attend games.
Kestelman is confident that a full season can be completed and is open to playing in more than one hub location to achieve this goal.
“After consulting with the nine NBL clubs and the Australian Basketball Players’ Association and acting on the advice of our NBL Return to Competition Taskforce, we have decided the start of the season will be delayed until at least mid-January,” Kestelman said.
“The main reason for pushing the start of the season back to the new year is to give the clubs the best opportunity to play in front of as many fans as possible.
“We will remain flexible about the exact start date and this will depend on a number of factors, including travel and border restrictions, community transmission numbers and availability at venues across Australia and New Zealand.
“We intend to play a full season and, if needed, we will play in one or more hubs to achieve this.”
While the likes of NSW, South Australia, Victoria, and Western Australia are lead candidates to host hubs, Kestelman stressed that no decision had been made on locations to restart the season.
“We are currently having positive discussions with a number of interested states about potential locations,” he said.
“As always, the health and safety of our players, staff and fans will be our number one priority. But we also remain focused on playing in front of fans as they are the lifeblood of the league.
“Delaying the start of the season until the new year gives us the best opportunity to do that as well as the necessary time and flexibility to plan accordingly.”
NBL commissioner Jeremy Loeliger declared that the players’ health and the clubs’ financial security must come first.
“We need to adopt appropriate health and safety protocols to ensure we can schedule a season that we can deliver in its entirety and does not unnecessarily impact financially on our clubs,” Loeliger said.
“And having as many fans as possible at those games is critical to us.
“The NBL has enjoyed tremendous growth over the past five seasons and is now considered one of the best leagues in the world outside of the NBA.
“We are determined to continue to build on that momentum and repay the faith fans have shown in us.
“We will continue to provide regular updates over the coming weeks and months including an announcement about an exact start date and schedule of games as we get closer to the season.”
Originally published as NBL confirms season delay