The 2012/13 Australian National Basketball League season will have just eight teams after the Gold Coast Blaze owners withdrew their bid to stay in the competition.
Club owner Owen Tomlinson confirmed to Gold Coast Bulletin reporter Daniel Meers last night that they could no longer fight Basketball Australia and would shut down the club.
"We are going to walk away," he told the Bulletin. "We thought we were ready to enter the season, we thought we had the finances and we thought we were going to get the green light.
"Sadly, there are just too many hurdles that we are being made to jump. And we can't do it any more."
The Blaze went into voluntary administration in May this year and administrator Roland Robson later revealed the club was more than $A12 million in debt.
Basketball Australia acting chief executive officer Scott Derwin said a new eight-team schedule had already been prepared and would be released on Friday.
"The reality is it's genuinely tough out there in the business community in all sectors, and sport is not immune to that," said Derwin. "If you look to all major sports you'll see organisations dealing with significant and difficult financial challenges.
"It's naturally disappointing to see a club withdraw at this point, but we're confident the long term and future prosperity of the league will remain strong."
The Blaze, whose assistant coach was former Tall Blacks captain Pero Cameron, have terminated all staff and player contracts.
The Breakers have already snapped up former Blaze import Will Hudson for the upcoming season. They now have a total of 14 player points left, with 10 of those almost certainly reserved for another import.
Mark Worthington, Adam Gibson, Anthony Petire and Chris Goulding are now all looking for contracts elsewhere.
The club's submission to Basketball Australia to stay in the competition was rejected yesterday on the basis they could not provide the $1 million bank guarantee required from all clubs.
Basketball Australia released a statement yesterday afternoon stating the Blaze had until July 31 to provide further information on the bank guarantee, confirmation of a major funding source and assurance that their outstanding debt would be paid off by August 31.
Tomlinson told the Gold Coast Bulletin: "I'm disappointed and confused. We meet two of the three requirements, which they have said we did not meet. We've got the $500,000 working capital and we have given them an assurance that we will pay the debt as well."
The season will still commence on October 5 as previously announced and the new schedule will predominantly involve a change in opponent rather than dates.
- © Fairfax NZ News