No second Sydney team for 2008/09
Wed, 02 Jul 2008 6:31 PM
The National Basketball League will not include a second Sydney team in season 2008/09 after the two groups who had submitted proposals for a new license informed the NBL office they were unable to proceed with their bids.
The League office was informed on Wednesday that one of the bids would have to drop out of the race to gain a second Sydney NBL license. The group cited concerns about their ability to put in place the necessary logistical structures to support the team in the short timeframe still remaining until the start of the 2008/09 season on September 13.
The withdrawal left the bid backed by former Sydney Kings owners Harry Cousens and Dorry Kordahi as the only potential applicant for a license that could be considered by the NBL. Support from a major backer for the Cousens-Kordahi consortium failed to materialise however and the group advised the NBL late on Wednesday afternoon that they did not have the necessary financial assurances in place to proceed with their bid either.
The news left the League with no alternative but to cancel a planned teleconference of the NBL Participants on Wednesday evening that would have considered the license applications and make the decision to move ahead as an 11-team league in season 2008/09.
NBL interim Chief Executive Officer Chuck Harmison said the withdrawal of both bids at the eleventh hour was extremely disappointing but that the NBL could now focus on preparations for the 2008/09 season.
“The League had high hopes for both the proposed ownership groups, but ultimately when it came to crunch time both failed to produce the necessary backing to proceed despite the best efforts of some passionate basketball fans in both camps” said Harmison. “The League made a last-ditch attempt when it became apparent that both bids were faltering to bring the two groups together, but those efforts have been in vain. The NBL will therefore be an 11-team league in 2008/09 and we will now move forward and devote our energies to assisting our existing teams in their preparations for the season ahead.”
“Whilst we are obviously disappointed, we had been prepared for this eventuality since the Sydney Kings license was terminated and the League will continue on,” Harmison vowed. “We knew that the possibility of a consortium putting together a successful bid for a new license in time for the 2008/09 season was slim at best. The Razorbacks will now continue to ensure that we have a firm foothold in Australia’s biggest marketplace and they now have the chance to reinvent themselves as a team for all of Sydney. ”
Season 2008/09 will now see each of the NBL’s 11 clubs playing 30 games (15 home and 15 away). The regular season schedule is currently being revised and will be released later in July. The reduction in teams will see the top-eight finals format reviewed in the coming weeks.
This is a very, very sad day for basketball in Australia because the competition is loosing one of the longest basketball clubs in the history of Australian basketball. This was the club that during the early 1990s had an average crowd of 10,200 people during the regular season and on top of that they had a very, very long history of recruiting some of the NBL's best HIGH FLYING SHOWMANS: from James "Showtime" Smith (an awesome athlete who loved to DUNK and BLOCK shots ... well he ended up goaltending 95% of his attempts) to the IN YOUR FACE (Amare Stoudemire type) Leon "Neon" Trimmingham. Not to mention, the 3 PEAT championships as well as the multiple Rookie of the Year awardees (1997 - Matt Nielsen, 2000 - Derek Moore, 2002 - my main man Travis Lane, 2005 - Mark Worthington).
Loosing the Sydney Kings is the equivalent of loosing the New York Knicks or FC Barcelona in the Primera La Liga. Though the West Sydney Razorbacks will still be playing it is not the same as having their arch rivals there. An equivalent to such a case would be loosing Man U and having Man City in the Premier League (how boring! don't you agree?) or even worse loosing Real Madrid (which is impossible) and only having Atletico Madrid or the ultimate worse case scenario is loosing my favourite European football club - Athletic Bilbao (mind you, they are the only club besides Real and Barca to never be relegated) and only having Real Sociedad in the Primera La Liga.
Basketball is going down the drain even though many basketball players and journalists are trying to stay positive. Evidence can firstly be seen in the crowd numbers where you only have an average turn out of 2,000 or so. Some clubs such as the Singapore Slingers play in an empty stadium. The National Indoor Stadium in Singapore can hold a capacity of 10,000 but in many Slinger games you can read that only 1,000 or sometimes 1,200 people attended the match. During last season's grand finals which featured the two top squads of the season: Sydney and Melbourne which featured many national squad members (Sydney: Glen Saville, Mark Worthington and Luke Kendall; Melbourne: Chris Anstey & David Barlow) only had 3,000 people attend game 1 in Sydney. However, the final game in Sydney (game 5) which Melbourne won had a capacity of 10,200 people fill the Sydney Entertainment Centre. Though it is a positive sign the Australian NBL has a long way to go compared to the rejuvenated "A-League" Australia's top flight football competition. Though this competition's level is the equivalent of a top - mid tier Asian football league or even some of the Central American leagues (e.g. El Salvador or Honduras) the league attracts an average of 26,000 to 35,000 people. The "A-League" is only brand new since it only started back in 2005. Before that Australian had the National Soccer League (NSL) but that league shut down in 2003 due to the financial debt that it had accumulated over the years. Back in the NSL it was a similar scenario as the Australian NBL with only a handful of supporters (though mid you they were VERY PASSIONATE since many were ethnic Australian backed. For example, Sydney Olympic - Greeks; Sydney United - Croatians; Marconi Fairfield - Italians) but after a 2 year absence football has sky rocketed back to the Australian sporting scene. Though football is not in the top 5 sports in Australia (the others are: 1. Australian Rules Football, 2. Cricket, 3. Rugby League, 4. Rugby Union, 5. Netball) many sporting fans and football fans can see that there is a VERY BRIGHT future ahead football in Australia. There are many factors that basketball can learn from the football resurgence:
1. Quality of management at the federation level
2. Increase in capital
3. Grassroot programs
4. Community based initiatives
5. Marquee signings
and the list goes on...
"No hay poder en el mundo que pueda cambiar el destino"