Irish basketball's elite men's leagues will be split into conference systems for the 2020/21 season as the sport seeks to minimise the financial strain placed on clubs by the coronavirus pandemic and lengthy shutdown.
The Men’s Super League and National Division 1 will be divided into a North Conference and a South Conference and the competitions have also had their start dates brought forward. They will now begin on the weekend of October 17th/18th.
The decisions were made after clubs met with the Men’s National Competitions Committee (MNCC).
“The new conference system in both the Super League and Division 1 was unanimously agreed by the clubs,” said Bernard O'Byrne, chair of the MNCC and Basketball Ireland CEO.
“This will help ease the financial burden on clubs who continue to deal with the fallout from Covid-19. The playoffs will also bring an exciting climax to the league season.
“We can also now look forward to the traditional start date of the basketball season, following the government's recent decision to accelerate its roadmap and the reduction in phases.”
The 16-game regular Super League will boil down to home and away ties against sides in their own conference, on top of one match against sides in the opposing one. The top two from each will advance to the semi-finals.
A decision on which teams feature in which conference will be made on Friday.
The news is not a surprise. O'Byrne flagged the likelihood of a conference system this coming season when speaking to the Irish Examiner in early May.
“It's not a step into the unknown,” he explained then. “We had conferences before down the years so this is very much back to basics. It makes a lot of sense, it will bring down travel costs and it will help on the health and safety side as people will be travelling for shorter times and distances.”