How do you deliver bad news?
The Townsville Crocodiles have today informed the National Basketball League (NBL) they are unable to field a team in the 2016-17 season due to financial pressures and a failing economy in the area.
The NBL, which finally looked to be on up for the first time in recent memory after a strong 2015-16 season both on and off the court, will take a big hit with the loss of the Crocodiles.
Townsville were one of two teams, alongside the Hawks, in voluntary administration last season, and the league looked like it was about to cut down to just six teams.
New NBL CEO Larry Kestelman stepped in and saved both sides, with a revamped league having an incredibly strong season. Every game was on TV for the first time ever, crowd figures rose, and it was announced that the Brisbane Bullets will return next season.
However, the one low spot was the Townsville Crocodiles. They were strong enough on the floor, unable to compete on a nightly basis but pulling off some huge upsets and fighting all the way to the death in each and every game.
Crowds failed to increase at the Townsville Entertainment Centre though, and halfway through the season Kestelman called for the people of Townsville to make it known they wanted a team in the region.
Crowds increased, but evidently not enough with the team falling over today.
The team remodelled to a community-owned club last season, and the directors quoted tough economic conditions which have fallen upon the city as the reason for pulling out of the league next season.
NBL General Manager Keremy Loeliger said the League set new ownership guidelines in 2015 to ensure all teams were sustainable.
“In order for the NBL to be one of the strongest basketball leagues in the world we must have teams that are commercially sustainable – we can’t allow out players, fans or sponsors to have any lingering doubt as to the longevity of our club.”
“Despite the best endeavours of Townsville’s management and support team, the board has resolved there isn’t a viable business case for the Townsville Crocodiles to continue as part of the NBL.”
The NBL have stated they are going to be involved in the transition of the Crocodiles out of the league. The league has confirmed all financial commitments made by the club for the 2015-16 season will be fulfilled.
Follow Scott on Twitter @sk_pryde