Big Bash League to consult fans on potential schedule changes for next summer

BBL franchises have already discussed potential improvements for next season’s schedule while league boss Kim McConnie has vowed to listen to fan feedback regarding changes.

AAP understands the eight BBL general managers recently met, sharing thoughts on what worked and what didn’t during the past two months.

The overriding sentiment was that a major overhaul is not required but minor schedule adjustments for the 2019-2020 campaign could help after average crowds dropped in every state’s capital city.

The Twenty20 competition’s growing pains came after it expanded to a complete home-and-away season on the back of a $1.2 billion TV rights deal, in which Cricket Australia (CA) agreed to deliver 59 matches.

One notable proposed change is for the regular season to run until the end of January, so finals will be the only matches staged in February.

CA, well aware of the mental association that most Australian sport fans have with September, would then aim to create finals fever in February.

The equity of the brief playoffs is being debated by officials, players and pundits – as it has since the league’s inception.

The Scorchers struggled this BBL season.
Camera IconThe Scorchers struggled this BBL season.Picture: Getty Images

Respected veteran George Bailey is among those who feel the BBL should copy the IPL’s system of four finals, while CA has previously floated the idea of locking in a neutral venue for the final.

Uncertainty regarding the host city means CA will only have a couple of days to sell tickets for Sunday’s final.

The eight club bosses will meet again in late March, hoping to reach agreement with McConnie regarding the structure and schedule of the ninth BBL season.

Franchises and broadcasters, who have already flagged concerns, will shape CA’s final decision but McConnie told AAP that fans will be the ultimate drivers of change.

“We’re fans first and we do listen to fans,” she said.

“What do they think of the finals? What would they like to see? We don’t evaluate by talking to ourselves.

“Our DNA is being innovative. We’ve got no qualms saying ’that worked really well, let’s double down’ and ’that didn’t work, let’s do something different’.

“We’re going to wait for finals to end then spend a lot of time reviewing, talking to stakeholders and making changes.”

However, McConnie noted the BBL “can’t be reactive” after a season in which it was criticised about the standard of international players and pitches.

One likely change is for fewer mid-week games after school holidays but McConnie insisted expanding into February has been “quite successful”.

She suggested there is unlikely to be a change to the rule that international replacements must play a regular-season game to be eligible for finals.

That law that has affected both teams in Friday’s semi-final.