The Government has announced a rescue package of up to £4m for British basketball to address the impact of the absence of spectators because of COVID-19.

Around £3m of it will go to the British Basketball League (BBL) and Women’s British Basketball League (WBBL), who have been hardest hit by the loss of its crowds at games, with the remainder assigned to Basketball England.

“We are very pleased with the announcement by the Minister for Sport, Nigel Huddleston MP, today”, said Sir Rodney Walker, chairman of the BBL.

“Our league was hit very hard last season by COVID-19, causing us to have to curtail last season, to the great disappointment of our clubs, players and fans.

“DCMS gave us the confidence to start the 2020-21 season a few weeks ago, with a commitment of support, and we are particularly pleased with the level now confirmed.

“Our clubs have worked extremely hard to mitigate the impact of loss of spectators at our events, and sadly that has included job losses.

“With no certainty of when spectators can return, the announcement today ensures we can now go forward with some confidence, and continue our competitions and our planning for when we can welcome fans back to games.

“It will also be very important to ensuring the clubs’ vital community engagement programmes will be able to continue with confidence, giving the stability this provides overall to the clubs, their Foundations, and the sport in general.

“Clearly recognising the sustained impact on our league and clubs, including the large seven figure loss we sustained last season, we are hopeful that the Government will ensure that a significant portion of funding will be via grants.”

Full details on how Basketball England’s funding will be distributed to its men’s and women’s NBL clubs will be announced by Sport England in due course.

“This is fantastic news for the whole sport of basketball”, said Matt Neville, chair of Basketball England.

“Clubs are right at the heart of communities right across the country and have been suffering like many so others have during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“We welcome the financial assistance that the Government is providing and are sure it will be a massive boost for us and our top-level clubs, allowing them to continue to play this season and protect jobs and livelihoods.

“It will also help basketball carry on with the great work done to support their communities, many already suffering hardship, as we work through the challenges of the pandemic with this vital support.”