Indian magnate saves Wollongong Hawks

The Wollongong Hawks are back from the brink after miraculously securing a million-dollar bank guarantee with moments to spare.As the seconds wound down towards a 3pm deadline yesterday, Indian businessman Arun Jagatramka answered the Hawks' SOS call for a white knight to rescue the club from oblivion.The Illawarra mining magnate agreed to provide the all-important guarantee, leaving the NewNBL virtually no option but to include the Hawks in next season's restructured competition.

  • PROFILE: 'Kolkata boy' Arun Kumar Jagatramka
  • MERCURY SAYS: Happy ending with a touch of Bollywood
  • SLIDESHOW: A tribute to the Wollongong HawksYesterday's stunning turn of events came just 24 hours after the six-week Save the Hawks campaign had seemingly failed.Save the Hawks spearhead Mat Campbell could barely believe the good news himself."There's a lot of relief there, but it's more excitement, because this is the last thing we needed to shore up our bid and it gives (the NewNBL) no excuses now to kick us out," Campbell said."We believe the (NewNBL) decision will be (today) and fingers crossed, but I can't see any reason why we won't be in there now."The Hawks thought they had played the last home game in the club's 30-year lifespan when they hosted Adelaide on February 13.Wollongong's ownership group had poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the franchise over the last four years and said it didn't have the funds to keep the club going in 2009-10.But Campbell and a small band of like-minded people doggedly refused to let the Hawks die, launching the survival plan late last month and gaining a mountain of support via a specially designed Save the Hawks website.Almost $450,000 was pledged in foundation memberships and close to 1300 people registered their names for season tickets.But the Hawks were never going to be rescued without the $1 million guarantee required by the NewNBL.All hope appeared lost until Mr Jagatramka answered the club's prayers at the last minute."I thought this was something, that with so many strong companies around the Illawarra, that (securing a guarantor) should not be a problem," the softly spoken proprietor of Gujarat NRE Minerals Limited said."I thought one of the companies around here would certainly do it. "But then last week when I was reading it was coming to a head, that this institution operating in Wollongong for 31 years (was facing extinction), I had to help."I know the whole community loves their sports, be it rugby, football, cricket or basketball, so any team going out of business is something you don't like, you feel sad about it."I would certainly love the region to prosper and for the community and people to be happy."Campbell said the Hawks would now move full steam ahead setting up the club for next season and beyond."(The NewNBL) said to us they'd like us to get to $500,000 (in membership pledges) and that's something we can now put all our focus on," he said."What's happened today should provide the impetus for that."It's just a huge load off."The fact we're a community-based not-for-profit company, the hardest part was always going to be the guarantee. To have a great company like NRE that's well and truly established themselves in the community, to have them step up and provide Wollongong with a national sporting team is huge."You look at what ahm (Australian Health Management) have done as our naming rights sponsor and now we have NRE as the guarantor. To have national companies behind us like that, it's great for our team to have that kind of exposure and things are really looking good for next season. "To have Arun and his company step up like this in such short time, it's been awesome."

  • Smartphone
    Tablet - Narrow
    Tablet - Wide
    Desktop