Basketball - Australia seeks to cut apron strings from league

Australian basketball will seek to hand ownership of the country's fragile professional league back to the clubs, four years after rescuing the competition from economic collapse, the governing body has said.

Reuters

Under Basketball Australia's stewardship, the National Basketball League has made a tentative recovery in recent years with increased attendances and television audiences, emboldening authorities to consider cutting the league adrift.

"Basketball Australia also acknowledges that the future of the NBL should in many respects be determined and driven by those who are financially supporting it," the governing body's chief executive Kristina Keneally said in a statement.

"As we've previously indicated, it is our intention to support a viable NBL into the 2013/14 season, and we are working collaboratively with NBL clubs to that end."

The NBL, which has been won by the New Zealand-based Breakers for the last three seasons, has struggled to make an impact in Australasia's crowded sports market, where football codes dominate sponsorship and broadcast minutes.

It was brought to its knees in 2009 when a number of cash-strapped franchises elected to opt out of the competition.

BA said it would give the teams time to attract sponsors but added that it was yet to make a final decision on the de-merger, with the eight-team league needing to prove it could survive on its own.

The move comes weeks after owners of the NBL's Townsville Crocodiles attempted to hand back their license, saying the team could no longer function after losing millions of dollars.

BA declined to accept Townsville's surrender, saying management had failed to provide enough notice.

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