National Basketball League (England)
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2006)|
Though an earlier attempt was made to form a nationwide league in 1960, it wasn't until 1972 that the National League truly took off. The first season comprised just six clubs, plucked from regional and district leagues around the country, and was run in effect as a trial league. The six teams consisted of London-based teams Avenue and Sutton, Sheffield Scorpions and Liverpool Bruno Roughcutters from the North, Midlands club Loughborough All-Stars and touring team RAF Fliers.
After several successful seasons, expansion was implemented to 10 teams, and 1975 saw the addition of Division 2. The 1978–79 season was the first to adopt the post-season playoff format, while a year later the National Trophy was created.
In 1987, there was a breakaway by the league's elite clubs looking to formulate a fully professional league in the United Kingdom. The new league, operated by a new body, British Basketball League, was established as the country's top and only fully professional basketball league, though it retained the name National League Division 1, which was followed by Division 2 and Division 3 beneath it.
In 1993, the NBL restructured after the top division reverted to the name British Basketball League. Because of this, the lower divisions were renamed and restructured to fit accordingly. From the 1993-94 season, Division 1 was renamed as the Budweiser Basketball League (BBL), thus having a domino effect where the previous Division 2 was rebranded as NBL Division 1 and Division 3 became Division 2, forming the bottom of the three-tiered National League structure.
That season also saw the last relegation between the top-two divisions (BBL and Division 1), as last-placed Oldham Celtics were demoted into the new Division 1 for 1994–95. Their replacements were Sheffield Forgers and Leopards, which signalled the start of the current 'buy-in' policy operated by the BBL, whereby teams can only buy a place in the league, operating a franchise system. 1997 saw the addition of Division 3 to the structure, welcoming new teams such as Reading Rockets, Taunton Tigers and the Manchester Giants B team.
In 1999, the BBL restructured with a North-South conference system, and the following year the National Basketball League replaced Division 1 with the eight-team NBL Conference as the second-tier after the BBL. Subsequently Division 2 became Division 1 and Division 3 became Division 2, with the addition of a new Division 3 forming effectively the fifth-tier of the structure.
However Division 3 only lasted for one season, as another reorganisation took place the following year, in 2001, which saw an expanded NBL Conference and Division 1, while Divisions 2 and 3 merged to form a regionalised format, with Division 2 North and Division 2 South. In 2003, after three seasons, the BBL ditched its North-South Conference format, and reverted to a single league of ten clubs. During the same year, the National Basketball League was rebranded as the English Basketball League, and once again was restructured with a new format.
English Basketball League
The Conference was disbanded, and EBL reverted the National Leagues to EBL Division 1, Division 2 and a regionalised North-South Division 3, with Division 4 (a reincarnation of the one-time old Division 3 of 2000) returning to the fold in 2006.
|2000/01 (NBL Conference)|
|2001/02 (NBL Conference)|
|2002/03 (NBL Conference)|
|11||Hackney White Heat||22||3||19||6|