Basketball: Glasgow upset as BBL ends season without awarding title

By Jonathan SutherlandBBC Scotland
Basketball and net
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 took "a very negative route" by not awarding Glasgow Rocks their first title, says the club's owner Duncan Smillie.

Rocks were four points clear of London Lions, having played a game more, when the season was halted on 17 March due to coronavirus.

The BBL say clubs agreed unanimously that the campaign - due to finish on 17 May - could not be completed.

"It's disappointing and a very negative decision," Smillie told BBC Scotland.

"There was nothing to lose out of awarding champions and having a team of the year, and a coach of the year, and all those good things. There was nothing negative there.

"But they chose to go down a very negative route and say that the season didn't happen, that it's null and void."

Although Glasgow were top of the table, it was still mathematically possible for them to finish as low as seventh in the table had the season been played to a finish.

Smillie says Glasgow had shown they "were the best team in the championship" given that they were top with five games left to play. Four of those games would have been against other contenders for the title.

"This is our 22nd season in British basketball, we've never won that championship and we did look like we were going to go on and win," he added.

"To take away the efforts of all those players and coaches for this season, it's a little bit mean."

BBL chief operating officer Andy Webb added that a lack of cash reserves meant playing behind closed doors was not viable.

And chairman Sir Rodney Walker added: "Obviously, this is not the way anyone wanted to see the season end.

"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.

Costs prove prohibitive - 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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