Long-term future of British Basketball League secured in 10-year licence deal
British Basketball, the national governing body, and the British Basketball League today agreed terms on a new 10-year licencing pact that both parties said will further professionalise the sport in the country.
The agreement secures the long-term future of the league, with one-year extension licencing deals having been the norm.
British Basketball and the BBL announced nine months ago that a 10-year licence was on the table, and the intervening months have been spent finalising the terms.
Some of the new performance standards include minimum salary levels for players, enhanced player welfare, requirements to provide improved and high-quality playing facilities, and longer-term plans for venue development to improve the game-day experience for fans.
The deal also includes a requirement for governance reform, with clubs retaining their shareholder positions, and the BBL being managed by a board of directors, with greater independence.
Ian Curryer, chairman of British Basketball, said: "This is a significant step forward in one of the must under-developed team sports in Great Britain. This long-term deal is aimed at providing very real prospects of not just improving the fortunes of the domestic league but increasing the chance of national sporting success.”
His BBL counterpart Rodney Walker added: "The BBL clubs are all committed to growing the game, improving the fan experience, and raising standards, and this licence provides a robust framework within which to make those developments. It has taken some considerable time to get this agreement negotiated, but we are all confident it will provide the game with a solid platform to grow the professional men's club game in the UK."
The BBL said the 10-year licence will enable it to build a strong commercial platform for the league.
Last September, it signed a six-year deal with Perform for the international sports content and media group to manage the broadcast and digital rights for all BBL games, including exclusive streaming and data rights for its Watch&Bet and RunningBall products.
Perform streamed all 242 BBL games live in the 2016-17 season worldwide on Watch&Bet, plus a selection of games direct to fans on the Perform-managed LiveBasketball.TV platform, providing an international platform for a league which had traditionally had a limited audience at home and abroad.
The BBL also had an agreement in place last season with UK public-service broadcaster the BBC, which showed 32 live games from the men's and women's leagues.
Financial security could also lead to a return to European competition for British teams.
No British teams have been involved in top European competitions since the Guildford Heat lost all 10 games and encountered venue and financial difficulties when they took part in Euroleague Basketball's second-tier ULEB Cup, now the EuroCup, in 2007-08.
BBL commercial director Bob Hope told Sportcal at the turn of the year that the planned long-term licence meant conditions were now more favourable.
Next month, the BBL's top stars will compete in the British Basketball All-Stars Championship, an event being promoted by Barry Hearn's Matchroom Sport at London's O2 Arena. The fast-paced tournament, to be broadcast in the UK by pay-TV operator Sky, will offer £100,000 ($129,000) in prize money.
British Basketball was formed in the wake of Great Britain’s participation in the London Olympic Games in 2012, with the basketball federations of England and Scotland agreeing to rescind their membership of FIBA, the sport's international governing body, and merge permanently into the new federation from September 2016 in a move that ensures Team GB's eligibility for Olympic Games beginning with Tokyo 2020.