The future of the last remaining NBL foundation club appears more secure after telecommunications entrepreneur James Spenceley launched a bid to take control of the Wollongong Hawks.
The Hawks, who are yet to sign any players for the 2014-15 season, are one of several NBL clubs that have been operating under tight financial restrictions and have welcomed the latest development.
Spenceley has pledged a commitment to build the club and ensure it has a sustainable future.
His takeover application will be tabled at an extraordinary general meeting of Hawks members on July 14.
“The Wollongong Hawks are iconic in the NBL and are strongly affiliated with the Illawarra community,” Spenceley said.
“Over the years the club has built a solid foundation and my ownership proposal is about building upon that base.”
Hawks chairman Peter Bahlmann said the proposal offered the potential for the club to invest in the future.
“This alliance has the potential to make the Wollongong Hawks a stronger, more viable entity and that can only mean added value for fans of the club and the game,” Bahlmann said.
“James’s model allows him to focus on the business back-end while freeing up the staff to focus on the day-to-day workings of the club. It also means the players and coaching staff can concentrate on the game and their involvement within the community.”
NBL chief executive Fraser Neill said the ownership bid was a positive step forward for the club and its fans.
“The Wollongong Hawks are a key part of the local community and by securing their future the club can grow and thrive in tandem with the NBL itself,” Neill said.
The positive news of Spenceley’s planned takeover was offset somewhat by star import Rotnei Clarke’s decision not to return to Wollongong next season.
Clarke – the reigning NBL MVP – has signed with Belgian team Okapi Aalstar.
The 2014-15 NBL season begins on October 10, with Wollongong taking on Townsville and reigning champions Perth hosting rivals New Zealand.
The league will feature eight clubs for the third straight season, including the rebranded Melbourne United, formerly known as the Melbourne Tigers.