By James Crook

138291811May 1 - The Australian National Basketball League (NBL) and Basketball Australia have agreed to discuss a de-merger as the league looks to become self-sustaining as soon as this month.

Basketball Australia took control of the league five years ago in order to bring stability to the League which was in a state of crisis, but Basketball Australia secured a deal to bring it back to free-to-air television, as well as introducing new digital platforms and securing the return of the Sydney Kings team.

The Lleague saw significant attendance increases and television ratings as a result, but Basketball Australia feel that exploring the option of transferring the management and governance of the NBL to the clubs is the correct decision.

"In 2008, Basketball Australia took on the governance and management of the NBL at a critical time, when attendances were in significant decline and the League was not on free-to-air television," said Basketball Australia chief exeuctive Kristina Keneally.

"However, Basketball Australia introduced the NBL White Paper earlier this year recognising that the status quo was not an option for the League; that further growth and change is required to achieve financial sustainability for the NBL.

"Basketball Australia also acknowledges that the future of the NBL should in many respects be determined and driven by those who are financially supporting it.

However, Keneally emphasised that this would not result in Basketball Australia abandoning the League, and that the decision has not yet been formally approved by the Basketball Australia Board.

"As we've previously indicated, it is our intention to support a viable NBL into the 2013/14 season, and we are working collaboratively with NBL clubs to that end," she said.

"Quite simply, Basketball Australia sees a men's national competition as integral to the game, and we want the NBL to succeed.

"Importantly, we want to work with NBL clubs to explore the practical implications of a de-merger, and if we decide to proceed, to provide the leadership and transition to commercial and operational control conducive to the League's future success and viability.

"We are making this issue public at this stage to allow the clubs to speak with sponsors and broadcast partners; but I do need to emphasise that the Board of BA has not made a final decision yet."

134851260The NBL has seen significant increases in attendances and TV viewers since BA took control in 2008

NBL club representative Scott Stavretis praised Basketball Australia for their impact on the league and spoke of the process of the de-merger.

"Basketball Australia has worked hard to boost viewership and attendance numbers since it took on management of the NBL in 2008 - and we have seen those numbers grow in recent years," he said. 

"It's particularly important to acknowledge the White Paper process here, which has allowed serious and considered conversations about the future viability of the NBL to take place.

"In the coming weeks, the NBL clubs intend to work closely with Basketball Australia to explore what a possible de-merger would involve, and to ensure that any potential de-merger is undertaken in the most constructive way possible."

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