Leicester Riders to receive Government support to begin BBL season behind closed doors

By Samuel Gill

Leicester Riders will commence their season on 30 October following the confirmation of support from the DCMS to the BBL (British Basketball League).

The Government previously announced on 22 September that fans would not be allowed back into sports venues from 1 October after Coronavirus cases rose, meaning further restrictions.

This prevented the 2020-21 BBL season starting on the initial date of 2 October after teams including Riders had trained for eight weeks to begin proceedings.

Also this meant many pilots were put on hold in sports such as football and basketball including at the Morningside Arena.

This included a friendly against Sheffield Sharks recently which was instead streamed online for £4.99 for non season ticket holders.

But after a turbulent few months for sport as a whole, British Basketball will get ready to begin albeit behind closed doors.

Kevin Routledge, owner of Leicester Riders and a director for the BBL, spoke to Leicestershire Press about the support which he believes can sustain clubs until they are allowed to bring fans back in.

“What they’re promising is to compensate us for lost ticket revenue, so the direct impact on our finances from the lack of spectators. If they do exactly what they say, we should be able to last until we can get crowds back,” he said.

In terms of the Morningside Arena, they are ready for when they can reopen and welcome fans back with modifications being implemented throughout the arena.

This was seemingly done in part before the Coronavirus pandemic with Routledge saying that the Arena’s seating is 1m plus leg room so the scope is there when they do return for a near maximum capacity.

“We made a lot of physical modifications to the arena. We can have one of the largest capacities of any venue for the simple reason of the design of our seats. I had put in maximum leg room and they’re a metre apart,” he continued.

“We have extra doors going into the area, we have turnstiles, you have to go through a COVID questionnaire and you got allocated a time to come. So, we’re ready to go, we’re a COVID secure building. But we’re not allowed.”