British Basketball League

The British Basketball League (BBL) was established in 1987 as the men’s professional basketball league of the United Kingdom. While the BBL does not come close to emulating the success of the NBA, professional basketball has become increasingly popular in Britain in recent years. In 1995 over 14 000 spectators gathered in Manchester’s MEN Arena to watch the Manchester Giants face the London Leopards. Large crowds often gather to watch the ten teams of the BBL play against each other for the honour of winning the BBL Championships, the BBL Cup and the BBL Trophy. Watching BBL basketball is very affordable; adults should expect to pay around £10 and tickets for children are usually around £6. The ten currently active teams of the BBL are:

The BBL Championships

The BBL Championships are the most important event in British basketball. During the basketball season, each team in the British Basketball League plays 36 games, receiving 2 points for each victory secured. The season culminates in the keenly anticipated Finals Weekend, when the eight most successful teams in the league enter a play-off competition hosted by the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. The victorious team become BBL Champions.

The BBL Cup

Unlike the BBL Championships, which involves a points system, the BBL Cup is a knock-out competition. It involves all of the active members of the League. The Final is held at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham every January.

The BBL Trophy

The BBL Trophy competition differs from the BBL Championships and BBL Cup, as it does not involve only the professional teams of the BBL. Each year, six teams from the first divisions of The England Basketball League and the Scottish Basketball League are invited to participate in the competition. The teams are split into four groups and play only teams within their own group during the season. The teams which finish at the top of their groups qualify for a place in the semi-finals of the competition.

Playing Basketball in the U.K.

Basketball was introduced to the U.K. by a YMCA director in 1893, almost immediately after the game was invented by James Naismith. While the game was played enthusiastically in a number of YMCAs throughout the south of England in the 1890s and early 20th Century, basketball was never as popular in the U.K. as it became in the United States. A resurgence of interest in the sport occurred in the early 1940s as England played host to an influx of American G.I.s, although this renewed interest proved to be short-lived.

Several attempts to set up a national league in the latter half of the 20th Century failed due to a general lack of interest in the sport. It was not until 1987 that the British Basketball League was established. While basketball is still overshadowed by more popular sports such as football, rugby and cricket, the sport is steadily increasing in popularity. More schools are beginning to offer basketball as an option and many local teams are thriving. It has never been easier to become involved in basketball in the U.K.

Getting Started

One of the best things about basketball is how little equipment is needed to get started. If you intend to play at a club, the starting costs are minimal. The most important thing you can do is invest in a good quality pair of trainers which have adequate ankle support. It is worth spending a little extra on footwear in order to avoid injury while playing. You might also want to consider purchasing a basket and a ball in order to practice at home. These can be easily purchased in sports shops, or even in some large toy shops.

Playing Basketball in England

If you are interested in playing Basketball in England, the England Basketball website is an excellent resource. Basketball is becoming increasingly popular in Britain and it is becoming much easier to get involved. England Basketball supervises The England Basketball Leagues (EBL), which include leagues for men and women and for boys and girls in four different age categories. The EBL exists independently of the professional British Basketball League.

If you have tried basketball and would like to get involved with a local team, your first step should be to find out if there is a team in your area. Consult The England Basketball list of regional websites to find out what the situation is in your area. If there is no EBL team based close to your home, bear in mind that many towns now have basketball teams and participate in small, local leagues; your local leisure centre should be able to advise you about opportunities in your area.

Whether you are interested in going to support your local team in their EBL games or you are interested in becoming involved with the club yourself, look at the website of your local club and contact them to find out how you can become more involved. Supporting your local team is usually inexpensive: ticket prices vary but cost an average of £6 for an adult and £4 for a child. Amongst the most active EBL men’s and women’s teams are:



If you have specific questions about playing basketball in England you can also contact England Basketball by e-mail or by post:

England Basketball
c/o English Institute of Sport Coleridge Road Sheffield S9 5DA England


Playing Basketball in Scotland

Basketball Scotland is the FIBA approved governing body for basketball in Scotland. Like England Basketball, the organisation exists to support local teams and to oversee a national league. The clubs which participate in the Scottish Basketball League (and have teams for both men and women) are:

Scotland is also involved in the British Basketball League. The Scottish Rocks regularly take part in BBL competitions.

Playing Basketball in Wales

Basketball is less popular in Wales than in England and Scotland, but enthusiasts should still be able to find somewhere to play. The best way to go about finding a local team is to ask at local leisure centres and to check for advertisements in local papers.

The website of The Basketball Association of Wales is an important resource for those interested in playing basketball in Wales. The website has particularly useful information about youth basketball and gives contact details for local teams in Anglesea, Gwent, Mid Wales, South Wales and North Wales.

If you live in North Wales, you might be interested in The North Wales Basketball Association which organises a league for teams in North Wales, the Wirral and Cheshire.

A few Welsh teams, including the NEWI Nets and the Cardiff Celts are also involved in the English Basketball Leagues.

Playing Basketball in Northern Ireland

Once again, the best way to find the basketball club closest to you is to enquire at your leisure centre and look in the local press. Those interested in playing basketball in Northern Ireland might also want to contact the Ulster Basketball Association for advice by e-mail or by post:

Ulster Basketball Association
House of Sport Upper Malone Road Belfast BT9 5LA Northern Ireland


Basketball clubs in Northern Ireland include: