Coach Gordie McLeod confident Hawks will match best in NBL


New Wollongong Hawks team owner James Spenceley (left) and Hawks chairman Peter Bahlmann overlooking City Beach on Friday. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

New Wollongong Hawks team owner James Spenceley (left) and Hawks chairman Peter Bahlmann overlooking City Beach on Friday. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

Wollongong coach Gordie McLeod believes new Hawks owner James Spenceley is serious about ridding the club of its "poor cousin" image.

The Hawks operate on the lowest budget of any NBL team and struggle to attract big-name players to the club.

Spenceley not only has the cash to throw at a marquee player if he so desires, the telecommunications multi-millionaire boasts a wealth of business knowledge.

He has mapped out a plan to significantly boost Wollongong's member and sponsor numbers and McLeod is a big believer.

"It's fantastic news. We've got someone who really wants to try and take our club to another level, and that's really exciting," the reigning NBL coach of the year said.

"This club has been on a long journey and this is another part of that journey. James has been looking at this for quite a while and really sees something that he likes in the Hawks.

"It was looking very rocky and the future didn't look good, but our board has worked extremely hard through the difficulties and we've kept our head above water.

"Now it's about educating our fans, our members and the businesses of where the Hawks want to go. We need members to join up and businesses to join up. James wants to take the club to another level but we need all those people working together.

"James has got a passion and wants to get the front office in a position where we can make some things happen.

"He's been happy with how our team has done and how we've presented ourselves, but we've been totally under-resourced in a whole lot of areas, and hopefully with his expertise we'll be able to fix all that up."

McLeod was relieved to get the green light from the Hawks board to sign players for the 2014-15 season.

"We can sort all the other things out because obviously we haven't been able to make a lot of decisions with this going on in the background," he said.

"There's been uncertainty of being able to commit, so this is very exciting.

"We'll be starting afresh and everyone's going to be fixed up. We can start a season where we're on an even keel, we've got our budget to move forward.

"James wants to make the club better ... and his passion and his values fit along with our culture and teamwork and where we're trying to go as a club. I'm sure that was a big part and he liked what he saw.

"He's obviously got a vision and it's just great that we've got a vision now. We have a budget and we're going to work towards that budget."

Hawks chairman Peter Bahlmann is delighted to have Spenceley as the club's owner.

"This alliance has the potential to make the Hawks a stronger, more viable entity and that can only mean added value for fans of the club," Bahlmann said.

"James's model allows him to focus on the business back-end while freeing up the staff to focus on the day-to-day workings of the club. It also means the players and coaching staff can concentrate on the game and their involvement within the community."

NBL chief executive Fraser Neill sees the Hawks' future as bright.

"By ensuring the long-term future, this announcement gives [the] Illawarra a team in the national comp they cansupport and be proud of," Neill said.


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