Thursday, September 25, 2008

Elite Competition Is Coming

Late last week an independent committee released their review of the current Australian basketball competition in Australia. This review also included recommendations on how to revive and sustain a national competition. Possibly the most interesting of these recommendations is the change in structure to a new elite competition, in much the same way A League soccer was born.

In reading between the lines in would appear that this new competition would have increased media coverage which, at the very least, makes the general public aware that Australia has a national competition.

In order that we will be able to call the competition ‘elite’, the decision has been made to limit the number of franchises to 10 which, one might assume, would just mean that it will continue as it stands right now. That assumption would be incorrect, however.

NBL franchises would continue to be found in Perth, Adelaide and New Zealand. I wouldn’t see much change on the cards for any of these three teams under the restructuring of the league. They have reasonable solid, established roots in their respective areas and will just continue to conduct business as usual.

In Victoria, I believe it would be safe to assume that the Melbourne Tigers are going nowhere and will be one of the two franchises penciled in for the Vics.

At this point you would also expect that the Dragons will be the other, if for no other reason than a complete lack of any other option in Victoria.

You have to give them credit for trying to pick up the pieces of last year’s disaster. They have made a huge step in the right direction by hiring Brian Goorjian to steer the ship. Providing owner Mark Cowan is prepared to run at a loss for a little longer, the Dragons should turn the corner if all goes to plan. The city of Melbourne will come out and support their teams.

Sydney, on the other hand,…not so much for a very long time.

Now, New South Wales has been also been allocated two teams in the new elite model.

My money will be on the reemergence of the Sydney Kings. The on-again-off-again and now on-again involvement of current Kings licensee Mike Wrublewski certainly means there will be work going on behind the scenes to restore the Kings.

He made the smart move by not making the desperate jump to try to keep the Kings in the league this year. He has a history of involving himself with good projects and has bought himself time with this one, to come back onto the scene with some pop.

The return of the Kings would inevitably put the Sydney Spirit/Razorbacks out of their misery. This club has been desperate to keep their head above water for years and, unfortunately, it just is not going to happen for them.

Now although the population of Sydney would lead you to believe otherwise, this city just cannot sustain two basketball franchises.

The other New South Wales franchise should remain in Wollongong providing they can show that their product has finally gained some stability. They are the only remaining franchise from the NBL’s birth (only their name – Illawara to Wollongong – has been changed).

That, then, leaves us up here in the Sunshine State where we have been the opportunity for three franchises. Again, one would assume that we would all go about our business as usual since we have three teams in the competition right now in Gold Coast, Cairns and Townsville.

I don’t think this is how the review committee see things happening. In most elite competition models, you would ideally have a team in each of the major cities. In this case, Brisbane would have to be in and one of the other teams would be given their marching orders. The question becomes who?

Townsville has been a model franchise ever since they came into the competition in 1993. You would have to assume that they will be going nowhere. Considering the current state of the league, they would be shooting themselves in the foot if they got rid of something that is rock solid.

Cairns have been in the competition for a decade now. They have had their ups and downs as a franchise in their short history so I’m not sure how what would be discovered once they were put under the microscope.

The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if there may be something happening when you start retiring an active player’s singlet, as the Taipans have for Aaron Grabau’s at this season’s home opener.

That leaves the team from the sporting location flavour of the month, the Gold Coast. Every national sporting organization wants in on a team here. The obvious question would be whether the sponsorship pool will be able to support so many professional sporting clubs?

Early in the coming year some tough decisions are going to be made when the ten who are in the new and improved elite NBL competition.

I hope I am wrong, but I think there may be one Queensland franchise left wondering what happened to their “beautiful one day, perfect the next” lifestyle. I will be joining many others with interest in seeing just how it all pans out.

You can read my column every Wednesday in the Townsville Bulletin.


Brody said...

There has been a lot of people wanting Brisbane back in the comp. Do you think there is a possibility of a South Queensland team who share their games between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Paul Miles said...

I don't think you want a team playing in multiple home arenas, if that's what you're suggesting, Brody. Only leads to confusion for fans, and unnecessary road weariness for the home team.

Unfortunately, these decisions may come down to quantifiable numbers, like television households and attendance. Along with available facilities.

Hopefully this new oversight committee, or whatever this group is being called, won't cut the heart out of a team with solid support just because the community is too suburban or rural for their tastes.

John Rillie said...


It will be really interesting to see what happens with some existing franchises.

I agree with what Paul says. Moving your home venue between games can really cause unrest amoungst fans so I'm not totally sold on the idea of a SE Queensland team.

So much specualation is floating around right now so I look forward to the next stage of the review due out soon.

Glockers said...

I think JR is pretty on the mark regarding what will happen. Personally I would rather keep the existing three Queensland teams and add Brisbane.

I think it would be smarter to make it 11 teams, but if we have to drop someone then why not a Melbourne team? Why do we need two teams there?

I know both Melbourne teams are seen as successful though. Just I'd rather one team per city like in the A League.

I guess you could argue to leave Wollongong out?

sjp2real said...

JR good to see you found some love for Wollongong - I distinctly remember last year that you mentioned that "at least i will have a team next year" when you played down at the Sandpit in the height of the Hawks troubles last year...

I still think that rather than a allocation method, with a premeditated number of teams in each state... it should be done on merit and meeting the stringent guidelines that the newNBL set out. i.e Business Plan, Bank Guarantees or whatever the board deems necessary.

Paul Miles said...

Glockers, I think it's good for a league around 10 teams to have one city rivalry. And I think it's shaping up that Melbourne and South are both class teams this year. So if South can keep pace with the Tigers that could continue to be a very tense rivalry.

Plus, with the general disinterest of the Kings fans towards the Spirit, I think it would be wise for the new league to not assume fans will just follow whichever local team makes the cut.

Razorsfan said...

It seems inevitable that the Razors are gone after this season. I could never bring myself to support the Kings, would some kind of official merger possibly work? The Kings fans probably wouldn't go for it.

I miss the days of watching JR/Bolden/Rucker/Dwight at the Whitlam Centre/Homebush as well as JR killing it for Penrith in the ABA with Matty Nielsen. What happened to bball in Sydney?