Basketball: Refereeing changes likely for start of next season

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

AN ELITE group of referees could be in place next season to control major games in the Budweiser League. Moves to halt the increasing number of player suspensions and to improve relationships between referees and the players and coaches also include an end to regionalisation of officiating.

The number of suspensions of players and coaches has steadily grown over the past four seasons, from none in 1990-91, to eight the following season, then 12 last season and more than 24 this season.

Regionalising officiating saves money for the clubs in expenses paid to officials. But with teams playing each other three times in the league, in addition to regionalised league trophy groups, animosity between players and directed towards officials often carries over into the following games.

Mike Smith, chief executive of the Basketball League Limited, said: 'We have had regionalisation for three years and it has proved counter-productive. We must put in place a framework to enable coaches, players and officials to communicate effectively on the problems they face.'

Both the English Association of Basketball Officials and the recently formed Basketball Players' Association are drawing up codes of conduct for their members. At next weekend's Budweiser League play-offs at Wembley Arena, discussions will continue on implementing the plans for next season.