BRAD COLE THE ADVOCATE The 2020 NBL1 campaign for the North-West Thunder is over before it even began following the cancellation of the season across all three conferences on Tuesday afternoon.
Rosters had already been put back to a proposed May 15 start date by the league in the wake of the initial coronavirus outbreak, but the continued restrictions introduced, including those on indoor sports centres, left officials with little choice but to pull the pin altogether.
While disappointed that the team won’t be taking the court this year, Thunder chairman Tony Barker said the right decision had been made, especially on a financial front for the club.
“It was pretty much inevitable and it helps wrap it up in terms of some closure,” Barker said.
“Financially it is the best thing for us to say we are done and dusted for this season.
“There are no loose ends now and we can shut things down and look forward to 2021.
Barker advised that the Thunder are willing to refund memberships or allow members to hold over their fees for next season.
They will also enter discussions with current sponsors in the coming weeks to discuss options for 2021.
“Some sponsors more than others are really going to be hurting with what is going on out in the world,” Barker said.
“It will be an individual conversation with them in terms of whether they are okay for their sponsorship money to sit in the kitty and move forward or is it something that will be more timely in their coffers for the next few months.
“We’ll treat that on an individual basis.”
While the Thunder operate on a relatively small budget, Barker said he felt for the larger NBL1 clubs at this time who would be more adversely affected.
“One of the least impacted parts of this compared to some of the other clubs around the country is at least we don’t have a heap of staff to put off,” he said.
“I know other clubs who have the situation of immediate redundancies and standing people down – that’s not easy for them.”
In a statement, NBL1 chief operating officer Andy Crook said: “Obviously this is unfortunate but it is the most appropriate decision under the current circumstances.”
“The health and safety of players, staff and officials as well as the wider community comes first.”