Two names synonymous with the Melbourne Tigers are heading north to take over the coaching of the Sydney Kings. One, part of a family rich in Tigers history and the other, a star player with his name and singlet hanging in the rafters.
The future of the entire NBL is up in the air, with calls from legends of the game to put the league on “pause” and set up a new business model that would (hopefully) see the league prosper moving forward.
At the moment there is a clear divide between those that want the league to take a step back for a season to work things out and those that believe the league should continue and push through the current troubles.
The league currently has two clubs that have gone into voluntary administration over the past two weeks (within 7-8 days of each other), another club supposedly heading down and another club that is looking for playing opportunities elsewhere.
Speaking on his radio program yesterday morning, Andrew Gaze suggested that the league should shut down and come back with a better, stronger model than the one currently in place.
The A-League is the prime example of where this has happened before and where it has definitely helped the sport.
The NBL had been eerily silent up until yesterday, when Chairman Graeme Wade came out and said that he had “little sympathy for that proposition” in regards to the suggestion to shut down the league for a season. He went on to say “the people who are of that view don’t understand the enormity of the investment of the players, coaches, owners and fans in this competition” and that’s where he loses me slightly.
Gaze is one of the most qualified people in Australia to be speaking about and offering views on Australian basketball. He has been a player, a coach, a fan, a commentator, an owner since the 1980’s. So he would have a pretty good idea when it comes to what is involved in the competition.
Having said that, I do agree with Wade in a way. He mentioned the investment of the players, coaches, owners and fans – I believe that should be changed to simply say what would happen to the players and staff members (including coaching staff, trainers, front office etc.) if the league was to shut down for a season?
The fans and owners are, as much as I hate to say it, secondary in that instance. The first thought should be to the players and staff members, for their livelihood. If the league was to shut down for a season, a club would have no money coming in via game day or sponsorship because who would sponsor a dormant club? So with no money coming into the clubs coffers, how long would the clubs be able to pay their staff members and players to do….nothing.
I do agree with Gaze that the leagues business model is in major need of a revamp. It seems that every off-season there is a club, or clubs, that are on the brink of collapse. There is always a new Brisbane Bullets just out of reach for every off-season that they’ve been out of the competition.
Then there is the terrible marketing/media department and the decision made to release the name of the league MVP at almost 11pm on a Saturday night on social media, then followed that up with the announcement of the Most Improved Player at 1am Sunday morning. Not to mention that throughout the week leading up to the Grand Final series tip off, you would think there would be interviews with players, highlights of the teams play from throughout the season, maybe a Youtube panel show or Q&A session via Twitter with club honchos etc. Nope, there was one preview article on the website for Game 1 and two preview articles on the website for Game 2. Woop-de-bloody-do, that’s the way to get people fired up and market a Grand Final series!
When it comes to the two teams in Voluntary Administration right now, the Townsville Crocodiles and Wollongong Hawks, the league needs to be supporting them through any means necessary to make them sustainable now and into the future.
Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case. Boti Nagy wrote that the Crocs had asked the NBL for some clarification around next season and were essentially told that the NBL has no answers. That is a great help to the Crocs who had sponsors lined up and ready to go IF they could simply get these answers and some sort of confirmation about the league. Instead, here they are joining the Hawks in Voluntary Administration.
Wade says that the league “can’t do any scheduling or make announcements until we know what Townsville is doing“, which of course, they can. You draw up a schedule for the league as though all the teams are in the competition, you then draw up a second schedule for the league as though the two teams aren’t in the competition. You then give both of those to the Crocs so they have an idea of what the competition looks like with them and without them.
Unfortunately it simply seems to be another case of the NBL not knowing what it is doing. For their sake, as well as ours, I hope that they will keep everybody informed as these processes move forward. More transparency from the NBL about the decisions they make could go a long way to appeasing the fans, however I wouldn’t be counting on it…