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BBL ends seasons early with no title awarded

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The play-offs were scheduled to run from April to May, with the final to be held at London’s O2 Arena

The British Basketball League has ended the 2019-20 season early and the title will not be awarded.

Clubs unanimously agreed that the season – postponed on 17 March and due to finish on 17 May – could not be completed because of coronavirus.

“It’s not a sport with huge reserves – we don’t have significant broadcast rights like football,” said BBL chief operating officer Andy Webb.

“It’s just not viable to play behind closed doors – we rely on attendances.”

Glasgow Rocks were four points clear of London Lions at the top of the table, having played one game more, when the season was halted.

“Obviously, this is not the way anyone wanted to see the season end,” BBL chairman Sir Rodney Walker said.

“We looked at every option, including playing behind closed doors or restarting the season in the summer, but with the continued uncertainty, we just ran out of time and options.”

The BBL says it hopes to start the 2020-21 season in the autumn, but a date will depend on government advice on what will be allowed for indoor areas.

Analysis

Rob Dugdale, BBC Sport

The BBL’s priority was the stability of the league and it is confident the 11 teams that were operating in March, when the lockdown became inevitable, will still be there for 2020-21.

Restarting the season with the aim of a late-August finish was always going to be challenging. To do that, foreign players would need to be flown back and then quarantined before they even touched a basketball.

That would have cost money that playing behind closed doors could not have funded. Once the BBL’s biggest pay day – May’s potential record crowd at the O2 Arena – was lost, pressing the reset button for autumn was a no-brainer.

The furlough scheme has helped many clubs stay viable, but further government assistance may be required to ensure next season runs smoothly in the BBL and its women’s counterpart, the WBBL.

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