Hobart Chargers will cease operations for 12 months follwoing a public bust-up between the reigning SEABL champions and Basketball Tasmania.
The David Bartlett-led Chargers withdrew its men’s and women’s teams from next year’s Basketball Victoria elite league in dramatic fashion on Friday.
It comes just days after it was announced the Southern Huskies had joined New Zealand’s NBL on a five-year agreement.
“We're going to put the club into suspended operations in the hope that this time next year the environment and particularly the attitude and perhaps the personnel at Basketball Tasmania have changed,” Bartlett said.
“Effectively what Basketball Tasmania has done has asked us to break the law – to ensure they get control of assets. They get control of all the inspirational work that we’ve been doing and we're just not prepared for that to happen.
“It’s over, it’s dead, it’s buried... and it’s all down to the peak body of the bloody sport we are trying to inspire kids to play.
“It’s been lies, it’s been obscuration... it’s been delays, it’s been misinformation.”
Bartlett also accused the state body of bullying Southern Tasmania “for years” and said that he could not fathom its destructive actions.
“We talk about Cricket Australia having cultural problems... mate, they’ve got nothing on this mob. It’s a walk in the park compared to these thugs,” he said.
“Someone should be blamed for it. Ultimately it’s the board of Basketball Tasmania who must take responsibility for the actions of their executive. This decision is absolutely nothing to do with the entry of the Huskies into the market.”
Basketball Tasmania chief executive Chris McCoy refuted Bartlett’s claims and said that he was disappointed.
“Our position has always been what’s best for basketball and… Basketball Australia with the SEABL finishing have stipulated that teams need to be affiliated as per state constitutions, and that was always going to put further stipulations on the Chargers,” McCoy said.
“Unfortunately the ground has probably shifted in Hobart with the Huskies coming in and Anthony Stewart moving over as head coach. It sounds like David has jumped ship.
“The Chargers should be able to meet the requirements because it wasn’t anything groundbreaking. It was things like that we want to ensure we have a balance between pathways and winning – ensuring there are places on lists for Tasmanian products.”
McCoy said Bartlett’s accusations of mistruths and thuggery were unwarranted.
“Unfortunately our ideals of what we think is best for basketball has conflicted with David’s personal ambitions,” McCoy said.
“He had personal ambitions to build an empire and unfortunately the ground shifted where he hasn’t been able to do that, and he hasn’t been able to be a team player.”
McCoy said he has already held discussions with the Southern Huskies about replacing the Chargers with a men’s and women’s team behind first-team setup.
“We’re confident it’s a viable solution and will discuss it further in the next few days,” he said.
Launceston Tornadoes and North-West Thunder both said that they would be continuing on as normal.
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