Financial constraints will be the Wollongong Hawks’ greatest stumbling block in their bid for inclusion in next year’s new national competition.The Hawks were one of 10 National Basketball League clubs to vote unanimously for a massive overhaul of the sport when delegates and Basketball Australia representatives met in Sydney on Saturday. Basketball Australia and the NBL will now operate under the same umbrella as a single yet-to-be-named entity.”(This vote) signals a critical moment in the history of basketball in Australia,” Chairman of the Boards of Basketball Australia and the NBL David Thodey said.”It is time for change and this unanimous vote of confidence is a vote for our sport, our future and a show of support for the basketball community. Basketball has a bright future in Australia, and with renewed focus, commitment, and support we are determined to ensure the right foundations are set for the next decade.”This will be achieved through the introduction of a single, streamlined national structure for basketball, which promotes unity (and) accountability.”One of the first points of business will be the restructuring of the existing NBL, with early reports suggesting an eight-team format.If the powers-that-be retain a 10-team competition, the Hawks would still be vulnerable if the Brisbane Bullets and Sydney Kings are resurrected in time to apply for playing licences.Given that a licence will cost a rumoured $1 million, “accountability” will be a key issue for Wollongong’s ownership group in the application process.”It’s our firm intention to put in a submission and be part of the new league, but money will certainly be the toughest part for us in terms of meeting the criteria,” Hawks chairman Richard Clifford said yesterday.”On the other hand, we’ve a got a good fan base and we’re strong in other key areas such as community support, corporate support and the support of our local media. We essentially tick all the boxes, but the only thing is the financial backing.”The $1 million figure is being totally reviewed, as are a couple of other things, and that’s certainly one reason why the vote was unanimous. It gives us great hope.”FOX Sports have tabled a $35 million offer to cover every game in 2009, although it is believed the cable TV giant initially proposed an eight-team league.”FOX have made an offer, but it’s my understanding all 10 teams will now be considered,” Clifford said.”I’d say there will be plenty of negotiations over the next couple of weeks, and there’s a fair bit of work needed to hammer it all out.”The move to unify basketball in Australia began 18 months ago when Basketball Australia and the NBL signed a commitment to overhaul the sport.”The formation of this single management body will strengthen the focus on building the sport across all levels, and provide stronger links between national and state bodies,” Thodey said.”We have committed to moving forward together to transform basketball back to its rightful place as a major mainstream sport in Australia, through the development of sound commercial strategies, strong financial management and measurable outcomes.”We aim to deliver a revised governance and management structure and a sustainable business model and plan to ensure the sport’s successful future.”
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