Basketball Australia to abandon SEABL competition after 2019 season

BRAD COLE   THE ADVOCATE   The North-West Thunder, along with Tasmania’s two other SEABL clubs, look set to for a change of scenery after Basketball Australia’s decision to withdraw its management of the league after the 2019 season.

Clubs were reportedly left blindsided by the decision, which was dropped on them at a meeting in the lead-up to last Saturday’s grand finals in Melbourne.

It is believed that initial moves are already underway to introduce a new league to sit above Victoria’s current Big V competition, where Tasmania’s three clubs would compete in.

Those plans could be brought forward however, with no guarantees that the 2019 season will go ahead.

Thunder chairman Tony Barker said he was left shocked by the move and has called a special board meeting of his club this week to work out a strategy.

“We’re just trying to figure out where we stand and what our approach is going forward,” Barker said. 

“The board thinking is we would prefer to be playing in the SEABL league under existing management in 2019, because it seems like that is still an option for us.

“At least that gives us some time to figure out what our transition is into something else the year after that.

“But we don’t actually know if there will be a 2019 yet and SEABL clubs as a collective now need to make a decision whether they are supportive of 2019 or not.

“Clubs like ours only exist with one team, not like some in Melbourne who have hundreds of junior teams under them.”

Barker, along with Launceston president Janie Finlay and Hobart president David Bartlett released a joint media release on Thursday stating their focus to play in the SEABL next year and continue to develop strong pathways for young Tasmanians. 

That pathway could see them playing against Victorian teams on a more regular basis, a move Barker was by no means against but was light on detail about.

“It’s something but we don’t know a lot about it,” he said.

“One of the biggest keys would be having equalisation in that league because currently in SEABL all the clubs pay in a certain amount of money to spread things like travel costs. 

“If Tassie clubs played in Victoria without any equalisation, it would probably be cost prohibitive to us and likewise with teams like Mount Gambier and Albury/Wodonga.”

A final decision on the future of the SEABL will be made at Basketball Australia board meeting on October 5.

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