It was the news every Hawks fans had waited anxiously for.
Wollongong’s NBL club took a giant stride out of the darkness of an uncertain future and into the light on Wednesday, securing Multi Civil and Rail as their major sponsor.
The company, which is also the major backer of the region’s premier football team the South Coast Wolves, has committed to a one-year deal, which is expected to secure the Hawks place in the competition next season.
The agreement will be the centrepiece of Hawks general manager Kim Welch’s survival pitch to creditors at the make-or-break meeting early next month.
‘‘It puts us in a significantly stronger position,’’ Welch said.
‘‘We’ve had almost 30 re-commitments or pledges for sponsorships, but certainly, the major sponsorship was the key piece of the puzzle we needed.
‘‘We’re not going to be complacent and relax, there’s still plenty of work to be done and we need to continue to engage with business and the community.
‘‘But it’s a huge step in the right direction and we can take it to the second meeting of creditors to show the club’s support is encouraging for the future.’’
The first creditors meeting, held two weeks ago, revealed a $1.1 million debt, where the player were owed superannuation payments.
While there are still major financial and administrative hurdles for the club to clear, more than $800,000 of the debt is owed to the NBL or owner James Spenceley.
Provided Spenceley and the NBL remain committed to the Hawks survival, it means most of the debt will not have to be paid off in the short term.
In just his first year of ownership, Spenceley placed the Hawks into voluntary administration following Wollongong Coal’s move to end their current major sponsorship deal in preference for a lesser financial arrangement.
MCR will now have their logo on the front of the home and away singlets for next season, provided the Hawks plan for survival is approved at the creditors meeting.
Earlier this month, the NBL announced it would delay the free agent signing period until April 30, to allow the Hawks and Townsville Crocodiles – also in voluntary administration – time to have their house in order before rival clubs poached players.
The Hawks finished with the wooden spoon last season, winning just six games.
While the NBL faced the threat of having just six teams in the league next season, there could be as many as nine if a Brisbane franchise is resurrected.
The Bullets are continuing discussions with Brisbane business identities in the hope of ending their seven-year exile.