Here's what the media release says:
The National Basketball League advises that the Wollongong Hawks have decided to place themselves into Voluntary Administration, effective today.
The club experienced a difficult season on and off the court throughout 2014/15 due to a number of factors, including the surprise loss of their major sponsor.
The process of placing the business in Voluntary Administration is a strategic one and will provide the club with the room required to put a plan together to move the Hawks into the 2015/16 NBL season.
General Manager Kim Welch said: "We are not asking Wollongong to save the Hawks again, we are simply informing the Illawarra community that in order to survive we need businesses to join us on an ongoing basis."
The Administration provides an opportunity to rally the corporate community together to ensure the financial solvency of the club, but it will not work without the support of either investment or sponsorship.
Wollongong Hawks owner James Spenceley remains committed to the club, and as a sign of his commitment to ensure the process results in a successful outcome; will pay all staff, players and coaches during the month-long period of Administration.
He is also open to additional investors becoming part-owners as an avenue to raise additional funds.
NBL Chairman Graeme Wade said: “The NBL must be professional at all levels and in order for it to conduct a world-class competition it is fundamental that all clubs not only operate in an outstanding way on the court, but that they operate in a way off the court that secures their long term viability.
“Clubs operating in regional areas must have passionate fans and sponsors who are always willing to support the club and we know from experience this can be achieved."
Wollongong Hawks General Manager Kim Welch and owner James Spenceley are available for comment today from 3pm - 5pm AEDT.
NBL Chairman Graeme Wade said: "The NBL must be professional at all levels and in order for it to conduct a world-class competition it is fundamental that all clubs not only operate in an outstanding way on the court, but that they operate in a way off the court that secures their long term viability.Oh dear...
This is why expanding into an already failed Brisbane is silly.
Ah, no. This why getting a sustainable team operating in a major market, plus the TV deal, is CRUCIAL to the NBL's success.
"Not all of the current teams are stable as is. look after them first before you reintroduce one that has already failed."
I guess the question is, how do you "look after" existing teams without growing the NBL business? And what other ways can the NBL grow the business without expanding into new markets?
Official Media Statement
Monday 2 March 2015
After a tough season where the Hawks kept fighting and never gave up, the organisation has been dealt a substantial off court blow with Wollongong Coal pulling out of their major sponsorship 1.5 years into a 5 year contract.
Owner James Spenceley is not walking out on the club but with an additional hole in the budget of $1.8m over next 3 years, the Hawks have no other alternative but to place the business into Voluntary Administration while a plan is worked out to fill the deficit left by Wollongong Coal.
Spenceley is still committed to underwriting the club to his original budget but that can only work if there is sponsorship and support from the businesses that operate and make their money in the region.
The loss of Wollongong Coal took the club by surprise.
Kim Welch - Hawks General Manager said "While we had a 5 year contract we also understand that Wollongong Coal are in financial hardship and the effect of that hardship is not just felt by the Hawks, it is felt by many in the community and far more directly. We remain hopeful that if business conditions improve we will see Wollongong Coal back as a substantial sponsor in the near future".
The process of Voluntary Administration is a strategic one and will provide the club and the business community with the breathing space to put together a plan to move the Hawks into next season.
Welch added "We are not asking Wollongong to save the Hawks again, we are simply informing the Illawarra that in order to survive we need the businesses to join us on an ongoing basis. The void of Wollongong Coal leaving cannot be realistically nor fairly expected to be carried by one person who is already significantly contributing financially to the club"
As a sign of James' commitment and desire to ensure the process of Voluntary Administration results in a successful outcome he will personally pay all staff, players and coaches during the month long period of voluntary administration. He is also open to additional Investors wanting to become part owners as an avenue to raise additional funds.
It is extremely important for the Wollongong community to understand the Administration is a business process to ensure the club has adequate time to rally the business community and ensure the financial solvency of the club - but it will not work without the support of the Illawarra business community through sponsorship.
"If we can unite businesses both big and small and replace the financial commitment of the loss of our major sponsor then the club will survive and continue to represent this region at a national level. This represents a great opportunity for businesses of the Illawarra to get behind the team and get the public exposure of stepping up" Hawks General Manager - Kim Welch said.
New markets FFS. Where are they.
No Brisbane. No Tassie. They were supposed to be new markets.
ACT basketball lost $250k recently so rule them out too.
16 teams in a few years, as if, hell they cant even run a decent semi finals TV coverage let alone run a National League. As someone has already said here National Bush League and that's a spot on description.
Happy Days, no import spots left in NZ. State leagues are their best bet.
Not very confident about this situation. No Spenceley presence in that press release. Owner/admin could be offside with sponsors/fans after the Gruber issue. VA is a risk with more benefits to an escaping owner than anything else.
Expand yes, if that new market is stable - but it isnt!
It's not expansion if you gain 1 team but lose 2 - 1 being the last remaining foundation club.
I'm not buying the whole Brisbane club buys you a better TV deal. If I am a network owner I look at all of the tangibles and validity of the league. Gaining a club back in a major market like Brisbane which has failed previously but at the same time losing 2 regional clubs would not be an attractive proposition for me - it would instead present a risk.
When the NSL didn't work the whole league was scrapped and only the teams that could survive (Perth) did, the rest were replaced with completely commercial ventures that had no affiliation to former sponsors, fans, or groups of any kind.
The key to it all of course was Hyundai and Westfield pumping a gazillion dollars into the entire league, not just their favourite teams or home town teams.
This reinvention also created the avenue for the marquee player. While in the NBL some imports are called marquee players...let's face it they're not superstars of the game.
Dwight Yorke and Allessandro Del Piero were players who had won champions leagues, and been the face of some of the biggest clubs in the world.
When they aged and were passed their best and could no longer play for the best teams in the world, they were lured to Australia by smart business people with deep pockets.
Imagine how much this league could change if someone was able to lure the likes of Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitski and alike to Australia (or NZ) for a season or two.
Look at how much entertainment Childress brought, and he was barely known by your average NBA fan before his arrival to the Kings.
It would change everything.
This is what the NBL needs to find, someone with a passion for developing basketball as a brand, not just a passion for sponsoring something short-term to get their business name out there or needs a tax write-off.
The difficulty is of course, the NBL's long-running commitment to ensure regional areas are represented, which should be commended.
Regional teams can only generally employ people to live and work in that area, which means gaining a sponsor with big bucks who can be convinced that their investment is worth it is tough.
Why the ACT doesn't have a team is beyond me, it's where we move our brightest young stars before they are either taken to the USA or elsewhere.
Until the NBL finds passionate basketball lovers to run the game, it will stay where it is, with teams coming and going.
I hope Wollongong sticks around for the sake of the league because they are the only foundation club left.
Wilson Sting, clubs would be secretly approaching players now, gauging their interest.
Anon re marquee players, it's not that easy by a long way. The money to risk just isn't there and China is getting those players through sheer use of money. And they're guys like Beasley and so on. Dirk and Duncan are still playing roles in championship campaigns - they have no need for NBL money. Garnett has just returned to Minnesota.
Childress brought some crowds (bettered by Perth without any drawcard players) but it didn't secure a TV deal.
Admin and marketing ineptitude has cost the NBL its reputation in the media. Those making the decisions have no respect for the league and its recent history.
"Why the ACT doesn't have a team is beyond me, it's where we move our brightest young stars before they are either taken to the USA or elsewhere."
Some kids get to go to the CoE, a select few only. Many of those that didn't played in probably the greatest U20 Mens game in 2 x o/t, so its far from Canberra being the obvious choice.
Here's why there's unlikey to be an NBL side any time soon in Canberra.
Voluntary administration seems to be a yearly thing for at least one of the community based clubs.
I have no accountantcy training although it almost seems like a renegotiating tool with whatever aspect of the business the club isn't happy with (venue, sponsors, league office, existing player or coach contracts).
The clubs know the league can't afford another club to fold (7 or 6 team league....Yikes) and seem to use this to their advantage.
Nathan of Perth
To go along with NZ taking part in their 4th GF in 5 years and a regional team making up the other part of the grand final tie.
I'm thrilled for Cairns and NZ have obviously earned their success but it must be making NBL HQ tear their hair out, because the sponsors won't be enjoying it!
I wonder if it's potentially a good idea to have a (almost) Half Australian, NZ Basketball League like what the ANZ Championship does.
6. Victoria #2 or Cairns
10. Other NZ City
Only hope is people with lots of money and a passion for basketball get involved now, we don't have the fan base and the only way to get one is to get money and get nba-talent players, and names that people are familiar with. Unfortunately China has beaten us too it.
Guys like marbury, AI coming here are the only thing that'll save us now.
Few things I would be happy with seeing (doubt they will):
1) Bogut throwing some money around
2) NBA buying NBL
3) Sack everyone involved in the NBL and start over (in particular those involved with the whole MVP thing on weekend)
4) try and merge into one of the strong asian leagues - might only mean 3/4 nil teams make it.
What is there to save? A 7 team competition. BA got out at the right time. The train wreck that is the NBL now is on the verge of ceasing. I was howled down a while ago suggesting teams would / could fold. Jeez the same 'ol platitudes are meaningless and achieve nothing.
Boti has a few thoughts on the matter.
Add Adel and Twnsv to the on the brink as well.
I have also heard that Cairns will make a decent profit this year and that's disappointing if they cant continue their success next season.
How does the NBL allow this all to occur? Where is the money going that they are in charge of going? Maybe there needs to be some accountability for these clowns allowing this to happen. A true tragedy indeed.
Bogut has little interest in the NBL and is careful with his money. NBA doesn't care about minnow NBL when there are 700 million people in Europe, a billion in Africa and 4+ billion in Asia.
We already have money men involved in the league, but there are non-financial clubs regardless.
I'd be looking at costs which don't scale with the size of the league (admin, marketing, etc) and costs which do (players, flights, etc). Then work out the best way to treat either.
If you took a reasonable participation fee from each club, and added more clubs, then you're hoarding more money for virtually the same admin/marketing - spend that on increasing the quality of it. Find the pricepoint at which every club can survive. Work out what they can pay players, and then engineer the equations around that.
If players are a significant cost, then work out a way to keep giving them their income but make more from them. e.g., stagger 2-3 competitions around the country where players can suit in 1-3 and make their wage without missing games through overlap. If a guy can play NBL, SEABL and a new XBL deal in one year, you spread the load. Do it in the right way, and you eliminate spending load on a small group of fans too.
Admittedly, I suggest this every time a team is in trouble.
Harry, the NBL is essentially the clubs, or at least a subset of the more influential ones. Core clubs only have themselves to blame.
Issac, with clubs folding on a semi regular basis or at least nearly folding regularly, the NBL people still get paid!
IMO they do little to help promote the game, earn money from the piss poor NBL.tv, announce the NBL most prestigious awards via twitter, because they cant afford to host a ceremony and prematurely ejaculate over IMO a ludicrous Brisbane announcement.
Participation fees, licences all go to the NBL and what do they do with it.? SFA as far as I can tell.
No naming Rights since IINET? Who even remembers that far back.
I thought after the Hawks almost folded last time there was supposed to be better business accountability for all teams by the NBL.?
You can't expect any teams getting less than 2000 people to an Entertainment Centre to be making money. Yet the NBL allow this.
If Boti's right Adel are in trouble and as most here know Crocs too. Why would anyone want to be involved in the NBL next season.
Forget Brisbane, Tassie and a 2nd Melb team now. Way too late for that 2nd Melb team now.
Perth seems to think bigger venues work and that's the direction they want it to take. Kings will play out of a far smaller shittier wow out west venue next season, and will struggle to accommodate the numbers they had this season. Let alone cater for their sponsors. Not good.
Everyone bagged the crap out of BA when they had it and it wasn't good for sure. These new group are supposed to be astute businessmen in most cases.
Why cant they run the NBL like their own business's. It's time for them to be accountable as they have governance of "their own clubs" FFS.
Rest assured they should have know this was coming and I guess the Brisbane withdrawal now all makes sense.
Marvin needs to secure TV rights and with possibly a 7 team "National" competition next seasons. Good luck.
Finalists top 3 teams!!! Or maybe have a top 4 still?
People are now speculating on who we will have next season. People should be asking will there be a next season first.
More about Wollongong's scenario is up on PnR:
Hawks slump further into nest, place themselves into voluntary administration
I remain optimistically optimistic...but it is now getting tougher...
Participation fees, licences all go to the NBL and what do they do with it.? SFA as far as I can tell.Didn't they scrap the participation fee when they split from BA? I'm saying make it something practical, but add teams to beef up the total pool. That'd be for one league. Different story for a new league added over the top.
KET, limited salaries or plunder junior fees like other ABL competitions?
"Wollongong Coal spoke with James last year about broadening the sponsorship for Hawks, however, based on these discussions, a mutual deed was entered between James, as sole director of the Hawks, and Wollongong Coal in December 2014, terminating the sponsorship from the next season."
"With the private ownership of Hawks, James committed to take all the risks and rewards associated with club."
"Any decision to put the Hawks into administration has been made by James (Spenceley) individually as the private owner of the Hawks without any consultation with its major stakeholder,'' Wollongong Coal chairman and CEO Jasbir Singh said on Monday night.Full story
Wollongong Hawks and Wollongong Coal entered a settlement deed in December last year terminating the sponsorship of the mining company from the next season.
Mr Singh said the agreement was reached based on several discussions he had had with the Hawks' private owner, James Spenceley, last year.
"Spenceley strongly refuted suggestions he was looking for a way out of the club..."
" I'm still committed to getting the team on the court next season. It’s not me walking away, but I’m not going to pick up all the bills. Businesses in Wollongong have to get behind the team as well. It’s Wollongong’s team.’’So, committed for a month, then walking away? And it was Wollongong's team until a multimillionaire bought it!
This is from when Spenceley bought the team:
"It's not hard. You keep it simple. If you've got a good product, you let people know about it, they turn up. You manage the finances to that budget, it should work."
"Right now it's about sustainability and stability, so it's not a Save the Hawks situation every three or five years. The community has done a huge job saving the Hawks, but what we want to do is set this up so it's around for another generation to come.
"There's huge opportunity there. I wouldn't invest in this if I didn't think there was a way to get it to profitability and secure it.
Limited salaries is one way to go.
Personally, I'd like to see the NBL have lower overall salaries and have higher bonuses/performance payments.
That means that if the team does good and makes the playoffs, their increased revenue from the playoffs (sponsorship, gate takings etc) will cover the additional salary increase. It is also an incentive for players to actually work hard and not just "collect a decent paycheck".
On the flipside, if a team does horrible (e.g. Wollongong), you're going to save a lot of money - i.e. Melbourne missed the playoffs - they could have saved $100k in terms of withheld bonus payments.
Of course, the only issue is that some teams won't do this - i.e. Perth, allowing them to snap up the finest quality in the league because those players would want guaranteed amounts.
MACDUB, many already have bonuses written into contracts. I don't agree that performance-based is the way, but I do agree that player salaries have to be part of any change.
Providing a clear opportunity for players to keep earning what they earn avoids any fight with the NBLPA or gripes from players.
Back to Hawks, this from ATF:
More news on the Hawks, Wollongong Coal didn't pay their bills (including to the Hawks) and so had their contract cut.Similar thing happened with one of the 36ers sponsors the other year.
The coal thing is old news and the new owner has treated his new team poorly it seems.
With an average crowd of approx 2300 per night the Hawks fans have voted with their feet and not attended. A low crowd of 1723 proves that. Operating costs of a venue like that will send most clubs broke with attendances like that. Ask Townsville.
Its time for the local business's that are making money to put in. It isn't a Save the Hawks campaign all over again because that simply won't work.
Spencely has said ""We've approached every big business that we have a contact for but unfortunately no one has wanted to step up," "There are a lot of businesses that make money in Wollongong but they don't seem to be keen on supporting the local team.
Hiring over the coach and cutting Gruber would've cost them some support. I wonder if local businesses would be reluctant to support a Sydney-based owner when the club was previously a community setup?
Unless Spenceley was in for the long-term and the inevitable troughs, he should've invested as a sponsor rather than what's happened here.
Pretty gloomy time for the sport in the Illawarra region. With the Hawks not fielding a Championship Men or Women's team in the Waratah League this season (again for financial reasons I've been told) and now this, there isn't much of a pathway for local kids wanting to stay in their area and play
Gaze was saying this morning that 3000 at the State Netball centre is the same as 6500 at Hisense to make a profit. Personally i would never buy a basketball club unless i was prepared to write it off. I bet this guy wishes he never got involved....
It's not just a matter of writing off the purchase either; it's digging into your pockets every year.
Then you have the joy of every fan cursing you when you decided enough is enough & you can't continue throwing your cash into the bottomless pit that most NBL teams are.
The Brisbane Broncos and NQ Cowboys are the only two NRL clubs who have a financially viable football operation, for example, yet the NRL is a perfectly viable league as a whole. Every other NRL club only survives due to money from the TV deal and their leagues clubs.
Now the NBL has to forget about the TV deal. It ain't happening. People are talking about it like some cure-all panacea, but they are overlooking one small thing: NO ONE WANTS TO WATCH AUSTRALIAN BASKETBALL EN MASSE. So therefore no one is ponying up any dough for a big TV deal, and the clubs aren't going to get any decent money from a deal that doesn't exist.
I hate pokies but if they're propping up a team I don't really care.
I can see the Hawks had no choice, this was their only option, it is sad to read all this negativity about the NBL though, so I'll have a go at some positive...
The league could look at a few things from this season and apply them or improve on them for next season. Not everything went badly, there needs to be an honest and scientific post season analysis.
Some surveys need to be done, asking the public out there what they want, what will be their incentive to watch the NBL Live and on TV?
I have mentioned in the past, that we need leadership and courage, I am not sure how we will go in that area without a white knight so to speak. Owners of teams all have a vested interest in their next eggs, that may be holding the league back in terms of what needs to change, they may not have the courage to make the necessary changes...
There are examples of other sports at a national level here that have been moving forward, are we however asking too much too soon or can we have the NBL present a longer term plan that they can stick to?
Seems we had a plan, but got rid of our CEO, maybe we need to look at this and get back on track in the leadership stakes?
Post season MVP, boy that is a disaster (not the decision, the concept and celebration), we need to respect the league better than this IMHO!
I can't see the league moving forward as a divided group of individual franchises, all with their own agendas. On court, sure, go and kill one another, but off court we just need to move in the same direction (dare I say leadership is needed again)...
In some respects crowds were up, in some places they were down and we had media exposure (some good, some not so). If we can take the positives and the league can right itself with a view that one league needs everyone's support and everyone needs the support of the league, surely we can steady this ship?
Definetly dont want to see Pokies involved in Basketball. They cause too much grief and misery already.
(as spoken by the family member of a person who was utterly WRECKED by Pokies).
Have always thought the NBL worked best like the Big Bash operating out of the Capital Cities.
Bear, you think the disparate owners can come together behind one vision now, after Neill's departure? I think they'll keep fighting while the shallow pocketed clubs fall over and the rest will continue on this haphazard path we've followed for 10 years.
When any power club stands to lose in the slightest, they won't compromise for the good of the entire competition. It's so shortsighted.
I liked Neill and his vision.
Also, he had a vision. Now it appears to be the way Isaac said above.
I'm a hoops junkie that loves watching the nbl and the idea of more games and more teams was very appealing. I would love to be watching live nbl on a Tuesday night rather then a replay of the big bang theory.
The thought of no nbl next season potentially makes me sad:-(
But the line was drawn in the sand five years ago, to bring stability to the league/existing clubs, and have slow but continual growth and improvement. Some clubs have stuck to that plan and have prospered. Obviously it didn't go to plan for everyone else.
For how long do we keep on hitting the reset button, changing the strategy, to keep the stragglers going? The league will never grow to where we want it to be if we keep on bending over to do the right thing by the little guy, making exceptions for them, then complaining that its just the big guys bullying the others.
Granted, losing one or two clubs right now pretty much means no league (and no one wants that) but if the entire NBL strategy is "do what we need to do to barely scrape by" then we're going to continue going around in circles like we have done for the past decade or more.
Lets have a look at the clubs that have been in trouble the last few years.
Gold Coast - poorly managed with no financial responsibility, the owners treated the club like a play thing, and the players were treating their time at the club like a holiday. Their on court results showed that. Blamed the NBL for their demise.
Townsville - almost ran in to the ground by their previous GM and stopped doing the things that used to be done to make fan attendance virtually compulsory of you lived in the 'Ville.
Adelaide - by all accounts here, fan engagement has been terrible. Isaac (and I am sure many others) didn't bother renewing their memberships this year after many seasons because they'd had enough of being treated like dirt.
Wollongong - new rich owner who made a Captains Call with an unpopular signing, causing a domino effect of losing one of the most popular clubmen they had. Also had tickets prices way too high. First sign of trouble and his one and only solution has put the new tv deal in jeopardy.
So the reality is that four clubs, who didn't have the inclination to do the right thing by their fans and the rest of the league, have been holding the league back, giving it a bad reputation in the past five years. Meanwhile, the guys who are managing successful clubs are also doing their bit to keep the league going by running that too, but all most fans can do is point towards the selfishness of the bigger clubs for apparently not doing the right thing by those that aren't doing the right things by themselves, let along the rest of the league. If the perception of self-interest wants to get thrown around then the four clubs mentioned above are the ones that show be under scrutiny.
In the middle of last year, Marvin and the board instructed Neill to not solely focus on expansion, but to ensure the viability of the existing clubs. Great job he did at that! Combine that with making a premature announcement about a Brisbane team, which has left the NBL with egg on their face, I have no idea why people are lapping up this "vision" of 16 teams, 60 games a season, and all games on tv 7 days week that was meant to start next season.
"The league will never grow to where we want it to be if we keep on bending over to do the right thing by the little guy, making exceptions for them, then complaining that its just the big guys bullying the others."
It's not bending over for the little guy, it's finding a model that allows a national competition to operate sustainably.
Unless the NBL moves to an independent commission, however, I can't see greater interest trumping self interest, sadly.
It's incredible how quickly the owners have also replicated what happened the previous time the owners were in charge, as HO predicted here from the start.
- richer clubs changing rules to suit themselves
- factions of clubs working together to sabotage change
- increasing spending on players
- decreasing spending on league staff
- going cheap on comms/promotion
It's just sad. Hopefully Brisbane can be delivered, a TV deal can be found and they can move forward under the "each for their own" model, but it's hard to be overly optimistic.
"It's not bending over for the little guy, it's finding a model that allows a national competition to operate sustainably. "
And thats what they did five years ago! The owners drew a line in the sand, decided which way to go, the Dragons chucked the shits and left (the Tigers did but also returned) and they've then gone with the slow but continual growth and stability since then.
Now some of those clubs haven't lived up to their end of the deal and the suggestion is "oh we need to find a model that suits everyone". Its just going around in circles.
No, five years ago they did what was necessary to survive. Now they need a plan to grow, and it needs to be one that allows a national competition to operate sustainably.
The first step is to bring in an independent commission - which can receive annual direction from club owners - to operate the league clear of self-centred decision making.
The direction to focus on the existing clubs was a joke. What resources were provided to do so? How do you make existing clubs more viable without achieving growth? And how do you achieve growth without expanding the business?
"No, five years ago they did what was necessary to survive. Now they need a plan to grow, and it needs to be one that allows a national competition to operate sustainably."
What, so they just made a plan to tread water for five years?
"to operate the league clear of self-centred decision making. "
Why do you keep saying this? They had a plan five years ago. Some teams did their part, others didn't. The ones that you claim are being self-centred are sticking to the plan. That isn't self-centred at all.
If we keep on hitting the reset button every five years to let the little guys catch up because they couldn't get their shit together, who exactly is being self-centred.
"The direction to focus on the existing clubs was a joke."
Yeah, what a terrible strategy. Its clear they didn't need help as they are running just perfectly right now!
"How do you make existing clubs more viable without achieving growth?"
By getting them to do a number of things properly, and following the practices and standards that clubs having success have followed. There is absolutely zero point in expanding, or taking on a risky move of midweek games in a 60 season schedule if there are some clubs that continue to be basket-cases.
Its funny that its been mentioned that what works for Perth may not work for Cairns. Funny, aren't they the only two clubs who are making a profit right now? Obviously Perth has the money behind them to assist their growth but how are Cairns doing it? They had how many televised games in the past few years? They've bent which rules that suit themselves, and what faction are they aligned with?
Isaac started a really good thread a few weeks ago about why its hard to follow the NBL, and many of the suggestions spoke to the little things that they should be doing but they get so wrong. Well, most of the clubs dont do those little things well either but when shit goes wrong for them, the finger is only ever pointed and the league, or the power clubs. Its f***ing ridiculous.
"Why do you keep saying this? They had a plan five years ago."
No they didn't, BA took over a failing club-run model and clubs made a commitment to reduce spending individually.
One of the reasons the club-run model had failed was self-centred decision making - rich clubs exerting their influence to their own benefit but not the benefit of the competition.
Three years after BA took over the clubs felt BA weren't providing the strategic direction to allow growth so they took control of the competition back again.
So now, what's needed is a strategic direction from above individual club level that drives growth and helps existing clubs to be sustainable.
I'm not aware of any competition in Australia where all (or even most) clubs are sustainable in their own right, most rely on the league.
Until the NBL can provide the same basis for its clubs we will continue to be the hamster on the wheel (thanks Boti) getting to the same point of clubs being in financial trouble.
That's because league HQ actually runs the show, not the clubs, and those leagues provide their clubs with resources to run things properly.
One of the NBL's biggest issues at the moment is the lack of funding for league HQ to operate a professional league, and if the bigger clubs ever want this comp to grow into what they envisage they need to invest far more heavily in that area.
I think of the current setup as lacking a safety net. It's at risk of corner-cutting (Adelaide), or an owner losing interest (Wollongong) or venue deals being a tipping point to disaster (Wollongong, Townsville). It's easy to say "If those guys worked hard and got it right..." but the reality points to three out of eight clubs being on shaky ground. Too many variables that work against stability, growth, etc. "My house is in order" is a bit less useful if the house next to yours is boarded up or not mowing the lawn. It's reflected in the real world too and I imagine views on this align somewhat with broader political opinions.
The league can keep trying this idealistic approach always at the mercy of either second-/third-tier staff, or find a way to ensure it's not a charity but a reliable option for a community or a private owner.
As I've said many times, there is a way forward that covers all bases and provides great opportunities for fans, staff and players.
- an NBL with more teams that is affordable for Wollongong, regional clubs or unambitious private owners
- a superior league over the top where the strongest clubs can run amok, with showcase rules, etc
- scheduling that enables players to compete in both so that costs are shared by both leagues
If the broadened NBL ran with a cap of $500k, but players had a shorter pre-season and there were allowances like a third import to assist parity on a budget, it's instantly half a million more affordable than now. $500k is what Spenceley is looking for from a co-owner or sponsor, by the way. I imagine it could make most clubs profitable. Could make it $650k but such that a club spending $500k could be competitive. Run it Aug/Sep-Dec.
Then a showcase league from Jan-Mar. $500k+. Maybe six teams.
A tireless player could do SEABL from Apr-Aug, NBL from Aug/Sep-Dec and showcase league from Jan-Mar. Demos could do Apr-Dec. Gibson could do Aug-Mar. Washed up NBA players could do Jan-Mar with compressed pay.
I don't think it would work if BA tried to turn SEABL into the lower league. I think it has to be the NBL plus a new, premium-branded option.
$500K cheaper in salary only Isaac.
Perth will never agree to that anyway. Play out of the Snake Pit. Perth will never agree to that.
The Tassie bid has apparently been rejected by the NBL for wanting to play out of smaller venues.
The NBL says "The NBL must be professional at all levels and in order for it to conduct a world-class competition it is fundamental that all clubs not only operate in an outstanding way on the court, but that they operate in a way off the court that secures their long term viability."
"The Tassie bid has apparently been rejected by the NBL for wanting to play out of smaller venues."
Great point about the Tassie bid. There was much outcry about the rejection of the Tassie bid, but the footnote at the end of the article said that Stewart in his supposed partner had not been in contact with each other for months.
So again, first thing that happens is the league gets blamed but when you actually look at the real problems, they are happening at club level.
You are failing to understand a key point, Ewe Blab, is that clubs in all pro sports rely on league HQ to grow the overall product and generate revenue.
The clubs took back control from BA two years ago because they felt they weren't doing this, but the new management has not delivered in this key area, nor do they appear to have a plan to do so.
paul, you're failing to understand several key points in that even if the current league HQ were on board with this future vision of 60 game season with all games televised (its laughable to even type that!), it still wouldn't have prevented James Spencely making a dumb roster decision and alienating fans, or the Sixers not communicating with their long time members with encouragement to sign up the for the season just gone, and so on and so on.
I'm not talking about 60 games, I haven't mentioned it once.
My point is very simple, the NBL cannot operate sustainably in the current form. The owners took control of the league back because BA wasn't delivering revenue growth, but now the owner-led management isn't either, nor do they have a plan to do so.
Almost two years after taking control, that is simply not good enough.
And my point is, the league can continue being sustainable providing those making decisions at club level stop doing things which leave their fans alienated.
If the league could have showed a few years of sustainability, and slight but steady growth & improvement (which we've seen in areas such as a rise in the quality of imports in the past couple of years) then it would have become a more attractive product for the next tv deal. That was the plan five years ago but some clubs didn't bother to play along.
What a crock of shit UWE. You expect the NBL to not monitor the teams that make up their League?
Who cares about the quality of imports if most clubs lose money? I don't.
Attractive product? What game are you watching?
The clubs didn't play along because they are forced to play in venues that they cant afford by the frikkin NBL!
That might have been the plan 5 years ago, but for the last 2 seasons they have a NEW OWNER who have done SFA about anything.
"You expect the NBL to not monitor the teams that make up their League?"
"The clubs didn't play along because they are forced to play in venues that they cant afford by the frikkin NBL!"
Some clubs stopped engaging with their fans properly because the NBL forced them to play in arenas that aren't their first choice? Which clubs exactly?
Who is the NEW OWNER?
"And my point is, the league can continue being sustainable providing those making decisions at club level stop doing things which leave their fans alienated."
Can you please show me an example of a pro league in Australia where the clubs are sustainable without HQ generating revenue to back up that point.
"That was the plan five years ago but some clubs didn't bother to play along."
Again, you have missed a key point. BA was running the league five years ago. The clubs didn't like the way they were running it so took control two years ago.
There is no continual five-year progression. It is up to the club-managed league HQ to now provide direction under which clubs can be sustainable.
Crocs are playing in a venue and are lucky to even be in the NBL, because the NBL demanded they play in a stadium they couldn't afford.
Hawks are playing in another venue that they have to play in because the only other venue in the Gong is sub standard according to the NBL.
If the clubs stopped engaging with their fans, surely the NBL should intervene?
Sixers on the way put according to Boti who lives in the city, so I reckon her would know.
Crocs have a meeting on Friday re: their future with HQ and it has been mentioned up here that part of it is about gaining funds from the league like "other clubs have received in the past" to operate next season. What?!
I found that interesting as I don't recall ever reading (in public or rumours online) that the NBL was keeping clubs afloat with financial contributions. Again what!??!
Which got me thinking part of this announcement may be a powerplay tactic by Spencely to get some of this funding, or if not at the very least basically telling the rest of the teams "hey look your league is crumbling, your million dollar businesses are at stake (Wildcats, Breakers) what are you going to do about it (to help us)?"
I'll add to the above the Hawks announcement timing is interesting, the same week the Brisbane bid has been confirmed as dead and Crocs decision to be made which doesn't look good as they are asking for a handout from the NBL. So Spencely is kind of saying "you want a six team league?".. or he may not care since he is currently involved in the $1.1billion Amcom-Vocus merger with himself as head of it.
Crocs are playing in a venue and are lucky to even be in the NBL, because the NBL demanded they play in a stadium they couldn't afford.You mean the NBL is forcing them to play at RSL despite the fact that they can't afford it? Because I can't imagine there are any cheaper options around, and if the NBL was going to force their hand they'd make them play at the TEC.
Or are you just completely ignoring reality, so you can say the NBL is forcing them to play at the TEC despite the fact that they clearly aren't?
They cant afford to play in the TEC. So they move to the RSL stadium. They stay in the TEC they go broke, and play in a shitty stadium that others aren't allowed to play in., IE Hawks. Snake Pit.
Have a look back into the dim dark past and I recall that when the Crocs were failing last time the TEC had agreed to drop their rental by 1/2? Then when the Crocs were back in they (TEC) reneged on their 'promise'. One year later the Crocs move to the RSL.
If anyone is responsible for the Crocs dilemma it's the TEC and now they may have a floor that is new rather than the shit they had before and a drop in rental they propose to move back there next season. If there is a 7 team NBL next year.
As koberulz said, I read they didn't feel they could secure a deal before they had to commit to a venue so chose to play at the RSL Stadium for the season where they could have certainty.
They always wanted to go back but at a reduced rate (which they've apparently got) and with a new floor, which the council has stumped up for, so to speak.
What's the general consensus on here about Fraser Neil's vision of more regional teams playing in smaller venues ? Personally I liked his plans and here appeared to at least get things moving forwards as opposed to going backwards now.
I'd like to see a revised Salary cap of 400-500K for local players (8) with 2imports falling outside the salary cap ( similar to how the marquee rule works now) .
Koberulz, you need to understand that the TEC had promised to drop their rent. They lied. The Crocs then moved.Even assuming that's true--and there's plenty of reason to believe it isn't--that still doesn't have anything to do with your claim that the NBL forced the team to play at the TEC.
I do hope the Hawks pull through to the other side, but the whole saga shows that the league needs to go into bean bag room and have a rethink about how things should and need to be done.
The NBL is sporting entertainment, plain and simple. There are many other forms of entertainment that it is competing against and so the product needs to be presented in a format that customers want.
If you look at it strategically: (feel free to add)
* The League has been going since 1979
* Across Australia and New Zealand
* Basketball is an indoor sport, so can be played in all weather, all times of the year
* The League standard is a good basketball standard in relative terms
* Exciting to watch
* Players are generally clean cut and there are no bad behaviour issues (e.g. look at AFL drug scandals, NRL rape scandals, Cricket match fixing (Pakistan))
* No FTA contract in place for 2016 season
* Media coverage very poor
* Financial viability of clubs varies too much
* Always seems to have a cloud of doubt over some aspect of the NBL
* Player rosters can change too much from year to year
* No "B" league supporting the leagues
* Crowd attendances average around 5,000/game compared to 30,000 for AFL
* No major league sponsor
* Sponsorship gaps
* Lack of discussion on FTA "sports programmes"
* Arena standards vary too greatly
* NBL TV seems erratic
* Reffing standard seems erratic (That'll get some discussion!)
* More teams in the competition
* Linkages with Oceania/Asia (similar to the soccer)
* "State of Origin" style games
* Develop stronger links with state leagues
* Themed rounds (eg Rivalry, Heritage etc)
* Failure of current teams off court
* Lack of interest in league as supporters move to other sports/entertainment
* Failure of league itself
* Lack of organisational skills puts supporters off
* Season injuries can kill a team's chances (e.g. Kings 15)
I found that interesting as I don't recall ever reading (in public or rumours online) that the NBL was keeping clubs afloat with financial contributions. Again what!??!Yes, it's happened a number of times from what I've heard.
Bear, yes, that's why they should be retaining something people are familiar with (NBL, $200-500 season tickets, x games, etc), making it viable and adding something that is new and superior, but unfamiliar. For a fan in Wollongong, they'd keep spectating NBL. For someone in Sydney, they could go one or the other or both depending on season ticket pricing. Maybe the NBL returns to 48 minutes. The XBL is 40 minutes with some rule tweaks to encourage dunks or cut down on timeouts and breaks.
$500K cheaper in salary only Isaac.Might be cheaper only in salary, but it's still knocking half a million dollars from operating costs and I imagine for many clubs that's the difference between staying alive or an owner or league topping up funds.
Perth will never agree to that anyway. Play out of the Snake Pit. Perth will never agree to that.
The Tassie bid has apparently been rejected by the NBL for wanting to play out of smaller venues.
And I'm not saying Perth will agree to it, I'm saying they should agree to it to maximise basketball reach, opportunities for players, etc.
Didn't someone say earlier that there was now Wollongong team in the Waratah now?
Anyway A Gaze on the NBL debacle.
It is true Kobe. That's the difference.Because an ownership change at the venue left them nobody to negotiate a deal with. paul and I have both explained this to you already.
Why would they leave if it wasn't and move to a poor venue.
But again, your initial claim was that the NBL is forcing them to play at the TEC. You're claiming this despite the fact that they don't play at the TEC, and then you're claiming that the Crocs wouldn't play anywhere but the TEC unless forced to, which entirely contradicts your initial claim.
Yes, under that proposal, I would expect that 12ish teams compete in an NBL (include all current ones) but that a selection of stronger teams in big stadiums also had an XBL team - Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, NZ, Adelaide, Cairns perhaps.
The NBL wouldn't be begging for a TV deal (but would take one if there, or allow teams to negotiate their own, or go with iView or whatever), but the XBL would aim to negotiate one and make any tweaks likely to improve those chances.
This gives professional basketball a foot in the Marvin camp and the Neill camp without dropping player opportunities or discarding the sport in decent regional centres. I think there are advantages in both camps, but they don't necessarily reconcile well.
I think the current NBL has made demands/requirements of teams with regard to venues and think they may also influence ticket strategy somehow. Maybe via a loan staff member or overarching supervision somehow.
David Thodey has retired as the Telstra CEO. Any chance of getting him back to help again?
Also, the league should look at getting Isaac to consulant for them. He has the business and digital background and passion for the sport they should be looking at.
Hiring everyone with a background in huge multi national businesses probably doesn't work as the league is almost like a startup organisation before every season with the need for testing what works, hustle and good marketing.
Now that Spencely has taken the team from community owned with a proper board to a one man board who decided to place the Hawks into voluntary admin, what is stopping him from letting the club go and taking the team licence to a bigger market better suited to the corporate dollar?
What is his real motivation in all of this? Why bail on a team after one year, he has plenty of money. The long term commitment to the Hawks is not there.
From Mike Driscoll in the Illawarra Mercury:
On Spenceley's instructions, after just a handful of losses, the popular Dave Gruber was effectively sacked and in came NBL journeyman Luke Nevill.And:
The heart and soul of the Hawks was out the door and the team never recovered.
It wasn’t Nevill’s fault - he just accepted a contract as any professional basketballer would – but throw in the unpopular, under-achieving import Jahii Carson, who has already signed for a Serbian club – and the chemistry within the playing group never recovered.
The Mercury has been told Spenceley has hardly spoken with the Hawks front office for weeks and missed the club’s end of season dinner last week.Full story
Let’s hope it is just a busy man working hard and nothing more.
Let’s hope it’s not the case of a white knight turned fly-by-night.
You obviously can't pin Wollongong Coal's situation on the "owner's picks" of Nevill and Carson, plus moving on Gruber when Martin rejoined the team, but they would've certainly made things difficult for the team, plus alienated many fans. Losses and lower crowds would've resulted which never help the bottom line. It was quite clear that over time, Gordie minimised the use of Nevill and Carson, bringing them off the bench for more limited minutes.
Would be a tough gig for the GM now, especially as the club office is down to just him and volunteers. He's come to the role from Perth so wouldn't be as familiar with the existing sponsors and Wollongong business landscape. I don't envy anyone in a sponsorship/sales role even when they have loads of local contacts, but it'd be that much more brutal without any base like that.
How much money is "plenty"?From the SMH in mid-Jan:
The second is to become one of the youngest Australians in history to run a company worth more than $1 billion.Went from $22 million in 2013 to $37 million and good for #52 on the BRW Young Rich 2014.
The 38-year-old Sydney native in December managed to execute an audacious takeover, cutting a deal to merge his relatively upstart telco with established Perth-based rival Amcom Telecommunications, to form a $1.2 billion listed company. The deal has the backing of both boards and is set for approval by April.
Spenceley has spent a good $1 million of his own funds buying the struggling National Basketball League team the Wollongong Hawks, with the aim of turning the side's fortunes around on and off the court. He has already led the recruitment of better players and improved the team’s marketing and promotional efforts.(My bold.)
I'm not sure of Spenceley's motivation. He got involved with the NBL because of ex-Dodo Melb Utd owner Michael Slepoy who is a telco industry friend of his.
I like the idea of businessmen recruiting others to own clubs but the negative side is they don't have the passion once things go pear shaped.
I've never been to Wollongong, so pardon my ignorance, but my understanding is that basically it was Steel Town. Do we still make steel in Australia? If so, it won't be for long, yet more jobs sold to China.
Wollongong have effectively lost their Rugby League team, it was "merged with" (swallowed by) the Dragons. They also lost their Soccer team.
Is this an opportunity for the Hawks to fill a void, give the folks a team to back?
Or is it simply symptomatic of lack of funds and crowds?
I honestly don't know WHAT is in the best interests of the NBL's future. Maybe we need a lower cost structure (including smaller salary cap) to allow teams like Wollongong and Townsville to survive (and allow teams like Newcastle, Canberra, Geelong, & Tassie back)?
The problem then is what to do with teams like Perth & NZ? They're just going to become too powerful for such a league.
Obviously lucrative power clubs with big city venues make for a successful league, but at what cost. We end up with a 6 team league, and the problem that Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney (& Brisbane) aren't exactly rock solid financially
The gong is more of a uni town these days than a steel town. The steel and the port facilities are still prominent, but new facilities are being built around the uni and hospital and health care industries these days.
The hawks getting any sort of deal with the uni would be ideal, they have plenty of seats and the uni has over 19,000 students. I'm sure they'd buy beer at games.
Let's explore that for just a moment, shall we. A big regional city of around 300,000 or so population could potentially have a large university in it.
Like Geelong in some ways, it seems Wollongong is reinventing itself as an education, service, tourism, health and technology town, moving away from the large industrial and manufacturing sector of yesteryear.
I know here in Geelong the Deakin University is building on and expanding, has thousands of students I believe and I can't see it slowing down either.
Could an NBL franchise not look at working with such an organisation to get a stadium built that would be of mutual benefit to the school and the team playing from it? Would the students not be keen to attend and make up at least half of the crowd, is there any scope for this to occur here in Australia?
Dazz, Wollongong is a really nice place. Two popular beaches (surf beach and a family beach), esplanade, little restaurant strip, stadium is right on the beach with an attached brewpub. Nice coast in either direction, good weather more often than in Adelaide.
The university there is one of the biggest employers in the town but has had minimal involvement with the Hawks despite the club's efforts. That's a real shame as it would be a great match.
And this. "Spenceley is expected to meet with a preospective investor on Friday, just one year after taking over the club ownership.
'‘Off the phone with an awesome potential investor for the hawks, wants to put money in and become an co-owner could be a great lead Hawks'’ he posted on Twitter on Wednesday."
I know there has been some talk of games being played at the uni due to the costs of playing out of the WEC, but nothing has come of it.
The uni has the funds to build and operate a suitable facility, in which they could host other events too. They have plenty of land and parking , people to market to, could leverage off existing food and beverage facilities pre game.
They have modern courts right now, although I can't see how they fit 3000 + people as it is. I see a lot of mutual benefits all round with this type of arrangement.
If the Hawks end up in some type of regional or"B" league with a lower budget then at least they're still the Hawks.
The worst outcome would be if as a result of the current events the Hawks are gone and are spun into the next Western Sydney Razorwolves or Melbourne Magic Dragons, that would be tragic for a foundation club.
Bear, the uni's involvement last season was maybe six seats but not really a formal sponsorship arrangement. They've been approached previously.
It's possible that they just don't want to throw money that way, don't think the sponsorship is valuable and don't think they have a role to play in the community like that.
Bit late now, but any organisation like that should've been charmed - find the decision makers and bring them to a game, cater, have players meet and greet, get them involved. A lot of people don't become basketball fans until they've been to a game and seen it up close.
I've also suggested to the Hawks creating a Hawks Hitlist microsite which lists the biggest businesses and employers in the region, and frames it as a "we want you!" thing. Apply some social pressure in a very polite way. Tick off those that support the Hawks, invite the public to forward sponsorship leads of any level.
A coil,e of points about the football comparisons.
1. Frank Lowy barely put a cent into football. He did own part of Sydney FC for a few years. The company he chairs, but does not own, sponsors the community and women's football products for very obvious commercial reasons. If you run a retail empire, your core business IS women and children.
2. The national league close and 're-boot' option is open to a sport that has SEABL quality national wide (now emerging as a Sony sponsored national 2nd tier) and countless leagues overseas for professional / semi-professional players to seek refuge in.
3. An 'Asia strategy' will canibalise domestic interest if the ratio of domestic to Asian teams is not right. Super Rugby (Australia) is in real troubled because even rugby struggles to get people interested in the non-domestic games. Football leaves both rugby and basketball for dead in Australia and Asia. Getting the ratio right is much easier I'd football wanted to do this (ignoring it's existing participation in the Asian Champions League).
4. 'Indoor' is no longer the advantage it once was. Football stadiums are more plentiful and all weather than when the NSL last intersted anyone.
5. The original A-League TV deal was very modest to say the least. Only $17m for 4 years (as a yard stick, Melbourne Victory alone has an annual turnover of $20m). So why did private equity club owners agree to jointly loose over $200m over the last decade, with one year of losses alone probably greater than the losses in the NBL experienced over the entire decade?
Football and basketball share some market challenges, but the sheer scale and scope of football from participation and beyond means there is now, given a decade of sound
strategy, little to compare them.
It seems to me that the NBL should have listened to Neil. And listened carefully.
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