Melbourne United captain Chris Goulding is prepared to wait for a later start to the 2021 NBL season if it means the league can safely return with as many fans as possible to secure the sport’s financial future.
Uncertainty hangs over the season resumption in mid-January, with the NBL yet to decide if they will use a hub and its location.
Players and club officials are frustrated by the delays and want answers to adequately prepare the season – on and off the court.
Goulding would like to see more transparency around the season, but he can also see the bigger picture.
The NBL doesn’t have a big broadcast deal like other major domestic sports and rely on fans for the league’s survival.
It’s why Goulding insists a delay around any season announcement will be insignificant if it means the league can maximise attendances as the coronavirus continues to linger.
“Our fans, members and corporate partners are the lifeblood of our teams, and that is true league wide,” Goulding said.
“It (the season delay) is mildly frustrating, but in the grand scheme of things it is minuscule because there is so much more going on that is more important.
“We want to have as many of them as possible in our venues enjoying life basketball.
“If we must wait a little longer, I think in the grand scheme of things it isn’t the biggest deal.
“We understand that we are in a privileged position to be able to do what we love to do, and hopefully we can do it for as many people as possible.
“So, we have to go through all the protocols to make sure that it is safe because the last thing we want to do is start again.
“We want to be able to go out and put on a show for the fans of Australian basketball.”
NBL officials are edging closer to deciding if the league will use a hub to start the season or not.
The preference is for most of the season to be played as a normal home-and-away campaign, but it might not be possible to commence the season.
Adelaide successfully hosted two pre-season games against Brisbane over the weekend, with 50 per cent cap on the crowd.
The NBL will monitor a COVID-19 cluster in Adelaide’s north, which grew to 17 cases on Monday. The Bullets flew home to Brisbane on Saturday night.
Goulding didn’t watch the two games, and is itching to play some competitive basketball following a “tough” pre-season.
United couldn’t complete team scrimmages for several months during Melbourne’s COVID-19 lockdown.
“We could come in and do stuff with our own ball, and one person to a basket,” he said.
“It was tough times, but we had to look at it as an opportunity to get some work in the gym and work on our shooting and skills.
“Hopefully, we will be better placed for it.
“On the flip side, we’ve had a lot of time to work on our bodies to try and get in a position where we will be less affected by injuries.
“We are happy with where we are at. We haven’t used anything that as happened as an excuse and that is probably what I’m most proud of.”