$1.5m blow to Hawks

The Wollongong Hawks will need at least $1.5 million in the bank to have any chance of being accepted into next year's new Australian basketball competition.Yesterday Basketball Australia chief executive Scott Derwin confirmed all clubs would be obligated to meet stringent financial requirements when submitting applications to be in the revamped NBL.The league is likely to officially start taking submissions from teams on Monday week."There's been some marginal changes and we're working through minor adjustments, but the original criteria hasn't changed," Derwin said."Teams will need a $1 million bank guarantee and a paid-up capital requirement of half a millon dollars."We're looking at closing tenders in mid-January, maybe a bit earlier, and it will probably take a month to assess everything."After initially hoping the NBL would lower the $1.5 million figure, the Hawks now have no choice but to find more money if they want to be considered for the 2009 competition.If they can't significantly boost their finances, the NBL's lone remaining foundation club might be on its last legs.Hawks chairman Richard Clifford said the club would not go down without a fight."We need more funding, so we're between a rock and a hard place as far as meeting the criteria goes," he said."We were hoping they'd reconsidered, but our major concern all along has been the level of financial requirements."We will wait until the announcement on the new league is made and we'll abide by whatever decision is made. But it's disappointing because we're essentially a community basketball team, with good local sponsors and a few blokes putting in money. Given the fact we're the league's last original club, we're probably relying on a special exemption to some extent."The Hawks barely survived a well-publicised financial battle at the start of the year and were optimistic they had fought their last fight. But with basketball on life support in Australia, changes had to be made across the board, and Wollongong are in serious danger of being squeezed out.The Sydney Kings crumbled in June, while the Sydney Spirit (formerly West Sydney) are struggling to see out the 2008-09 season.If Wollongong follow suit, the disturbing reality is that NSW is unlikely to be represented in the new league. "We're preparing our submission and we'll address all the issues in front of us," Clifford said. "We'll put our best foot forward ..."