NBL advertises for Tasmanian franchise

The NBL has officially begun advertising for a new Tasmanian franchise as part of a bold plan to have a 16-team competition within five years.

The league has eight teams, with several unprofitable. NBL chief executive Fraser Neill's initial plan is to introduce four extra teams for the 2015-16 season.

Graeme Watson, the former Australian cricketer who played five Tests between 1966-72, has been employed as a consultant, seeking interest in Australia and New Zealand. He played a key role in the AFL's Greater Western Sydney and the A-League's Western Sydney winning their licences.

Tasmania has not had an NBL club since the Hobart Devils collapsed in 1996. The Launceston City Casino had won the championship in 1981.

While the revamped NBL has grand ambitions, whether prospective owners can raise enough capital and manage ongoing costs remains the crucial issue that has stymied the league for decades.

The NBL says ''the expansion program will deliver more scheduled games and more playing days during the week, thereby enhancing the commercial value of the league''.

Neill wants games every night of the week, a scenario that could appeal to pay TV and free-to-air networks and their digital offshoots, for live sport has become increasingly valuable because it cannot be downloaded earlier.

Network Ten broadcasts a game on Friday night on its One channel and a live game on a Sunday afternoon on its main channel.

There has not been a Tasmanian team in the NBL since the Hobart Devils folded in 1996. Previously, there was the Launceston City Casino team that won the title in 1981 but collapsed a year later.

The NBL is also keen to have a second Melbourne franchise and return to Brisbane.

There had been two groups interested in forming a new Melbourne club two years ago, including one dubbed the Melbourne Camouflage, and another that attempted to have the backing of a major US business, but the funds never eventuated.


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