Statement from NBL owner Larry Kestelman and commissioner Jeremy Loeliger


A message from NBL Owner and Executive Chairman Larry Kestelman and NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger:

These are unprecedented and challenging times and, like all of you, our simple wish is that we all get through it as safely and quickly as possible.

Sport is an important part of people’s lives, but at this critical time, we are very aware of putting things in perspective and that the health and safety of each and every one of our families, friends and the wider community should be everybody’s number one priority.

All sport will take a back seat for the moment but we also need to prepare for our return later in the year when the Hungry Jack’s NBL season is scheduled to begin. We will plan as best we can for all of the many contingencies that may arise between now and then. This includes the possibility of a later than expected start to the season, whilst continuing to prioritise the health and safety of everyone associated with the League.

Our clubs, owners, players, staff and officials have done an enormous amount of work over the past five years to return the Hungry Jack’s NBL to prominence here in Australia and New Zealand, and to make the NBL part of a broader, global conversation about basketball.

We have been lucky enough to have the support of so many incredible corporate and broadcast partners, and of course our many, many fans and we thank everyone of you for your faith in us. We are determined to repay that faith when we return.

We enjoyed one of our biggest and best seasons in 2019-20 with record attendances and world class basketball elevating the Hungry Jack’s NBL to a position that it is now considered one of the top professional basketball leagues in the world.

We are also in the fortunate position to have almost completed our season before the full impact of COVID-19 was felt, albeit that our Grand Final series and a significant revenue opportunity for the two competing clubs was significantly impacted.

We have much to be proud of as a league and all that we have worked together to build over the past five years. We do not take this for granted and it is this unity of purpose that will hold us in good stead during these times.

However, like all sports and businesses we are not immune to the impact of COVID-19. The NBL, and the sport of basketball here in Australia, are facing significant challenges like everyone else. We will continue to work together with clubs, owners, players, Basketball Australia, the State Associations and government at all levels around the country to do whatever we can to protect our sport, including the Hungry Jack’s NBL, NBL1 and 3x3Hustle, and ensure its ongoing viability and success.

Basketball is one of Australia’s highest participation sports with over one million organised participants, and it employs thousands of people while generating really significant economic, social and health benefits for the wider community, including many parts of regional Australia. We are a family sport made up of mums, dads and kids all over the country and the whole sport is affected from top to bottom.

We are very mindful of the thousands of businesses doing it tough and they are, quite rightly, a key priority for government support as are the many people who have lost their jobs and are suffering financial hardship. But it would be negligent of us not to explore all avenues, including government assistance, to help basketball navigate its way through this period so that our sport can continue to grow and be enjoyed by so many.

You will be hearing soon from our clubs about their arrangements for next season and we all look forward to welcoming you back. Like each of them, we highly value your loyalty and support and the vital role you’ve played to help build the Hungry Jack’s NBL into what it is today. We are determined to return in 2020-21 so that everyone can enjoy more world class sports entertainment.

Thank you again for your support. You will continue to hear from us over the coming weeks and months but in the meantime please stay safe and well.

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