Basketball Australia says it will do everything in its power to keep the financially embattled Gold Coast Blaze in the nine-team NBL competition for next season.
Interim BA CEO Scott Derwin released a statement in reaction to a decision by the Blaze to enter voluntary administration.
“The ownership group of the Gold Coast Blaze advised me late yesterday that they had placed the club into voluntary administration, and had appointed Roland Robson from Aggs Robson as administrator,” said Derwin. “The League understands that the Blaze took this difficult decision in order to act in a responsible, legal and ethical manner to try and find an appropriate way past their present financial difficulties.
“Basketball Australia’s priority is to find an appropriate solution quickly to the club’s current situation that allows the Blaze to continue to play in the NBL and we will explore all reasonable options in our power to assist them in this process.
“The NBL is now seeking to meet with the administrator as a matter of urgency in order to gather more information so we can formulate an appropriate position on the matter. Once we have reached this position we will communicate it publicly in due course.”
Doubtts over the club’s finances were first raised in March whenit failed to make a $50,000 payment to court.
The Blaze was ordered to put up the money as security if it wanted to continue its appeal against having to pay ex-coach Brendan Joyce more than $300,000 in unpaid wages.
Joyce won a $310,000 judgment in the Supreme Court in Brisbane late last year against the club after he was axed in 2009, just two years into a four-year deal.
Earlier Thursday the club’s franchise owner Gold Coast Blaze Pty Ltd said it had appointed W. Roland Robson of Aggs Robson Chartered Accountants as Voluntary Administrator yesterday to control the affairs of the Club.
“This appointment will allow the current owners the opportunity to finalise negotiations with a new equity partner and to engage in a process of promoting its restructuring plans.
“The Company has achieved an impressive commercial turnaround over the past two years, and has received great accolades for its on court performances this year from the basketball community throughout Australia.”
The Tomlinson family have supported the business since its inception, but recognised the need for additional investors in order to make the club sustainable in the long term.
Owen Tomlinson said: “We are in discussions with an investor who wants to proceed however our former coach, who has obtained a Supreme Court Judgment against the Company, had refused to delay enforcement proceedings before the required deadline, to enable us to finalise negotiations with this investor and so we have appointed a Voluntary Administrator to control the affairs of the Club pending the completion of these negotiations and thereby secure the long term future of the Club”.
He said negotiations with a new equity partner are well-advanced and he was confident that this appointment “will not only see the company through this process, but actually allow the club to successfully transition into a new long-term ownership structure.”
The Blaze situation continues a harrowing time for Gold Coast sporting clubs. The Gold Coast United A-League team lost its licence and the Titans NRL team has faced huge debt issues.