Fans will have more power, says Kings boss

Sydney Kings chairman Paul Smith says fans will be more choosy about what sport events to attend.
Sydney Kings chairman Paul Smith says fans will be more choosy about what sport events to attend.

Sydney Kings owner Paul Smith believes sports fans will be more selective about what events to attend again after being ignored and disrespected in the past.

The NRL resumed on Thursday behind closed doors and rival codes face a similar scenario when they start up again in the coming weeks and months after being delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While it's hoped at least some spectators will be allowed to return sooner rather than later, Smith suggested sports shouldn't take it for granted that fans starved of live action will automatically return in huge numbers.

"We're still yet to understand the propensity of the fans to return, in any sport," Smith told AAP.

"There's not a great understanding right now, we haven't seen a test case or a demonstration of fans saying 'alright, I'm coming back.

"We've got to work through a lot of things before we know where we stand.

"It's one thing saying fans are allowed back, but it's another thing determining under what circumstances fans will come back.

"That's going to be a bit of a twister for all sports, understanding what basis fans will return to buildings to be with us.

"I tell you what, it's going to highlight the value of fans now.

"A few sports have sort of ignored them a little bit and not treated them with the greatest respect.

"Fans are going to have a lot of power now.

"I think this is going to impact on on the way people are treated in buildings and the prices they are charged for concessions and things like that and the quality of what they get.

"People are going to be a little bit more discerning."

Basketball is one sport heavily dependent on fan attendance to keep its clubs financially viable.

"You can't function without fans, we must have fans to play, to make it all stack up," Smith said.

The NBL on Friday said its season wouldn't start until after the AFL and NRL had finished, meaning they are looking at probably commencing in November, rather than their usual October date of recent years.

That would also give them more time for the health situation to improve sufficiently for governments to sanction crowds at indoor sports venues.

"The lifeblood of the NBL is its fans and basketball is a product for live fan entertainment," NBL owner and executive chairman Larry Kestelman said.

"We will be doing everything possible to start our season in front of our much loved fans."

Australian Associated Press