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NBL revise season start date

The NBL 2020-21 season will commence later than initially scheduled to avoid a clash with the AFL and NRL finals series, the competition confirmed on Friday.

With the major football codes seasons pushing in to the month of October due to delays caused by COVID-19, NBL commissioner Jeremy Loeliger told Sports Drive it was a no-brainer to adjust the season start date.

“It gives us some free air after the conclusion of the NRL and AFL seasons, but also it increases the likelihood of us being able to play in stadiums that are nice and full with all of our teams fans,” he said.

“I think it’s a win for players, fans, media, sponsors, everyone alike if we can have more fans in those venues when we start play once again.”

The NBL won't however look to follow the model of the WNBL season, which was adjusted this week to commence without crowds in late November and run until the end of March.

Loeliger hinted at a quicker season and the prospect of more midweek matches over the festive season to condense the schedule.

“We’ve explored the idea of having more games midweek over the Christmas/New Year period. We do think there’s an appetite for it,” he said.

“We haven’t arrived at any definitive decisions yet because we don’t know exactly know when the season is going to be taking place. But even before the impact of coronavirus started to be felt we had explored the concept of more midweek basketball over the holiday period.”

The NBL boss was delighted by Bryce Cotton's return to the competition, having signed a fresh three year contract with the Perth Wildcats this week.

“We’re extremely pleased to see Byrce back, not only back but extending his arrangement with the Wildcats for a further two years to what he already had under contract,” he said.

“There’s still 2-3 players who we are waiting to see if they opt back in, I have every suspicion that they will because in addition to being a fantastic competition, it’s going to be one of the safest places to play in the world this coming summer.”

Loeliger left the door open for a return to three imports per team in 2020-21, should circumstances and finances allow it.

“It’s locked in (two imports) for the moment, but you never say never. If all the owners felt sometime from now that they wanted to return to an 11 player roster and allow the third import again, if the coronavirus situation had improved so much that they felt that was warranted, then yeah I don’t see why we couldn’t consider it as a group,” Loeliger said.

“It’s something we would do by consultation, the NBL would make the final decision. It would need to be in consultation with the owners.”

Dates will be announced by the NBL in the coming weeks for the season, anticipated to be the last week of October or the first weekend in November.

IMAGE: Herald Sun.


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