For the first time, clubs will now be urged to evacuate the competition on ''catastrophic unprofitability risk'' seasons.
From today the ''stay and defend'' message will be discarded from official NBL warnings during seasons when authorities believe club owners could lose excessive amounts of money while attempting to keep their club in the competition. NBL clubs are urged to leave early and stay only if the club is “well prepared and you can actively defend it from financial ruin”.
‘Black May’, when both Melbourne clubs withdrew from the competition, would have been deemed a "catastrophic unprofitability risk" or "code red" under the new warning policy. However, under the policy at the time, Basketball Australia gave the Victorian clubs the choice to persist losing large amounts money by staying in the competition, as the Melbourne Tigers eventually chose to do by competing in the 2009-10 season.
“Until now, club owners have always been given the choice to leave or stay and defend their club no matter how severe the threat,” a League spokesman said. “We even let Cairns and Wollongong stay in the competition as soon as they gave us the $1m guarantee, even though both franchises would need a miracle to go anywhere near a profit.”
In the wake of the Basketball Australia Royal Commission's interim findings, the new 'stay or go' policy's focus is on saving club owners money not protecting the integrity of the NBL by making it a stable and truly national competition.
The previous 2008-09 season, and every season prior through to the early 1990s, would have also qualified as being a ‘code red’ season under Basketball Australia’s new criteria.
The changes are likely to impact on the future of the Wollongong Hawks, despite currently sitting proudly at the top of the ladder.
“We suggest they flee the competition immediately,” an anonymous National Basketball League source said while reviewing North Melbourne Giants’ 1994 Grand Final win. “The community can only support spirited winning underdogs for so long before the inevitable happens as they go from winning underdogs to just plain dogs and spiral into oblivion. I hope.”